Box 54 Pinetamare
Dear Dr. Horner,
I enjoyed finally getting a letter from you. It arrived on the 20th. It took 11 days to get here from the time you wrote it. First class mail comes from the States in 5 to 14 days. Packages take from 1 to several weeks. Magazines and medical journals take about 3 months.
My wife and I will be your sponsor. I will gladly meet you at the airport in Naples on 25 July. It is not quite clear to me when you need a hotel. Please clarify this for me as soon as possible. I do understand that you want a room for two with bath at the Tennis Hotel from 5 August. Where will you stay the night of 25 July?
The Tennis Hotel is a popular hotel with the officers. It is a bit out of the way unless you have a car. It is on the back side of the base where there is not a gate. To walk to the hotel from the base requires taking a path through a field. It is very difficult after dark, but not impossible.
The American Hotel is not as nice as the Tennis, but is located across the street from the main gate. The hospital is on a hill about two blocks outside the main gate.
The base is not very big. There is no base housing. There is no government housing for officers. There are between 10 and 15 thousand Americans living here. Over 85% live north of Licola. Licola is about ten miles north of the base. I live at Lago Patria, fifteen miles north of the base. About half of our neighbors are Americans. Pinetamare is another five miles north of my house. Most of the enlisted families live in government housing in Pinetamare.
There is a divided, four-lane highway between Pinetamare and the base. At times the traffic is very heavy. Neapolitans pay no attention to traffic signs or signals. Driving is fun but hectic here.
I shipped a VW Rabbit over and bought a Fiat here. Both are easy to get repaired. Those who bring American cars often wait weeks for a part to arrive from the States. If you don't have a European car, I suggest you don't ship it.
We brought most of our electrical possessions with us, except clocks. We left an electric dryer in the States because it is too expensive to run it here. We got a gas dryer here. Our appliances work well enough on 50 cycles, including a washer, typewriter, refrigerator, sewing machine, vacuum cleaner, stereo, etc. The 60-cycle microwave ovens do not work properly here. We did not bring a T.V. from the States, but opted to buy a dual system T.V. after we got here.
Certainly bring your VCR. Most Americans here have one. The majority have VHS. Everyone is willing to share tapes. There is a locally broadcast station in English, but we still watch videotapes a lot.
The hospital has only about 24 beds and nearly half of those are on the post-partum ward. There are four intensive care beds, but it is nothing like you are familiar with in the States. There is only one respirator for newborns in the nursery. When we get a baby that requires it, the infant is quickly medevaced to Germany. This permits the one respirator to be freed up in case another infant shows up that needs it.
There are several smaller bases around the Mediterranean that send patients here for delivery.
With a NATO base here we serve all branches of the service. We have a small percentage of retirees. We have a lot of Italians that are married to Americans. That is an area of medicine for which I was not prepared. Fortunately, most of the serious medical problems are screened before coming overseas.
There are two family physicians, a pediatrician, two physician's assistants, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and an OB/GYN nurse practitioner at Pinetamare. Only active duty personel are seen at the hospital, unless they are referred by Pinetamare. There is no emergency room at Pinetamare. It is at the hospital. Pinetamare clinic is open from 8 AM to 8 PM.
We occasionally see major trauma, especially from auto accidents. The operating rooms are very good. Most patients are transported to Germany after they are stabilized. The lack of beds is the biggest problem with long-term patient care. (The hospital had 60 beds when I got here two years ago.)
You will have to be ACLS certified. I hope you are all up to date on that before you get here. It is difficult to get to go to medical conferences because of funding. We have a "Grand Rounds" every week that counts for one hour of CME credit.
Try to learn some Italian before you come. It makes being here a whole lot easier.
The base has a reasonably-sized Exchange and Commissary. I recommend you come with all the uniforms you will need for your tour here. The uniform shop is small and must order most things for you. There is no problem getting essentials at the Exchange. They have been out of batteries for weeks at a time, but it is possible to get the same sizes on the local economy.
Lamps are no problem here. The American light bulb is just replaced with a European one.
The Commissary stocks most of the major brands of things. There are few things available that are new in grocery stores in the States. Anything that was stocked in a grocery store ten years ago will probably be found in our Commissary. The meats are good and not expensive.
There are about 3 million people living around Naples. Almost anything that is available in the States can be found if you know where to look for it.
There is no air conditioning here. Bring a fan. Also, bring an electric blanket and long underwear. There is poor heating in the majority of homes here.
Will you want an apartment or a house? You will likely spend $400 to $500 a month for rent. Electric bills are about $20 a month. Electricity goes off frequently here. You will want to find a place with a phone. Otherwise, you will wait months to years for a phone to be installed. The other family physician at Pinetamare lives in the Vomero of Naples, about 25 miles away.
The other family physicians here are Neil Ragan (pronounced like Reagan) and Norman Schlager. Dr. Schlager is working at the hospital and not really doing family practice. When you arrive, we will each be on call (primarily for OB) one night a week and one weekend a month.
I brought two rolls of 36" screen for building window screens. It will depend on where you live whether the flies and mosquitoes will be bad.
The summer uniform is khaki. You will want to fly in that. Also, bring one white uniform in case of some special event that will require it before your shipment arrives.
It will take about 4 weeks for your express shipment to arrive. It will probably take 3 months for your household goods to arrive.
The physicians here do not get to travel as much as we would like. I have seen Athens, Paris, and London. Rome is only 3 hours from here. Pompeii is about a half hour away. There is much to see and do around Naples.
Naples is a very dirty city. There is trash everywhere. The people are usually friendly and helpful. No one gets in a hurry to do anything here. It can take a week for a plumber to come to your house for something you would consider an emergency in the States. Burglary is a big problem here, but they will usually only take your electronic equipment.
Most of us, on most days, are quite excited about being here.
Immediately after arriving here, everyone takes a week-long course called ICR (Intercultural Relations). The course teaches a little Italian. It teaches how to use the trains and buses. There are classroom lectures as well as "field trips" to downtown Naples. I need to know which week you want to take this class so that I can get you enrolled.
Also, there is a required driving course. You will probably want to take this one-day class the week after ICR.
I am sure you are getting excited about finishing your residency. Good luck with the Boards.
We look forward to your coming. I will start working on a video tape for you soon. I am sure you will have other questions as time gets closer to your arrival. I look forward to hearing from you again soon.
You can call the clinic direct from the States at 011-39-823-858-744. If I am not there, talk to Dr. Ragan. Please send me a phone number to call you and I will.
Michael and Jeannie Cole
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