The Italian Almanac

Aviano air base

Italian News - May 14

Many Americans stationed at Aviano are used to receiving medical care from local Italian professionals. That’s shown by the 3,300 appointments made with doctors outside the base in 2005. Without them, Col. Michael Schaffrinna, the 31st Medical Group commander, said Friday that patients who couldn’t be treated on base would have to be flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany or to the States. “That would be extremely expensive and, more importantly, it wouldn’t be timely,” he said.

So the Air Force invited dozens of providers from the network of caregivers to the base to receive a few thank-yous, a tour of the grounds and some of its aircraft and a “virtual tour” of the base’s soon-to-open medical clinic. Brig Gen. Robert Yates, commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, assured the medical workers that they wouldn’t be losing customers when the clinic — “which will open …” he said knocking loudly on the wooden lectern “... hopefully next month” — begins operating.

While the new facility will likely eliminate the U.S. pediatrics operation in nearby Sacile, Americans will continue to see Italian doctors for a variety of needs, he said. Those services include specialty care and emergency treatment around the clock. Yates said 30 Americans with emergency cases were treated by Italian medical personnel in 2005.