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Visions of art and high-tech surgery – Milan and Turin provide examples on how to improve life quality

Caring. for health. for life quality. for development – caring in order to lay the foundations for the “economics of happiness” (discussed in last week’s blog post), and thus have at heart the well-being of the people we interact with.

‘Taking care of’ and ‘have at heart’ – two essential and interrelated phrases that come to mind while scanning the news and learning about an extraordinary feat of surgery to restore the sight of a blind person at the Molinette Hospital in Turin, and the innovative decision to combine art masterpieces and medical treatment at Humanitas Hospital in Milan. Cutting-edge science and technology on one side and profound awareness of the relationship between artistic emotions and therapeutic outcomes on the other –unprecedented visions of innovative cultural syntheses.

The Molinette Hospital (public university hospital) in Turin has been considered an outstanding European healthcare institution for a long time. That’s where the team led by Michele Reibaldi and Vincenzo Sarnicola has performed a feat of autotransplant surgery, a procedure involving the transplant of the entire surface of the left eye – blind but in good conditions – onto the right eye, which had been damaged by an autoimmune disease years before: a world first: and a great success, as the patient – an 83-year-old man – regained his sightand can therefore now enjoy a better life.

The notion of improving the life conditions of hospitalised patients is also what drove the decision taken by the management of the Humanitas Research Hospital (private hospital) in Milan: the walls of its complex in Rozzano now display the magnified images of 23 details from 15 artworks by Raffaello, Piero della Francesca, Bellotto, Crivelli, Hayez and other major artists, a choice made because “art is conducive to healing”, as explained by Gianfelice Rocca, president of Humanitas.

The initiative is called “Brera in Humanitas”, as the images displayed on the walls of rooms and waiting rooms are taken from the artworks exhibited at the Pinacoteca di Brera gallery, and aims to add some colour and emotion to the lives of patients, their relatives, doctors and nurses. James Bradburne, director of the Pinacoteca di Brera, asserted that, “We are bringing some of the museum’s magic to the hospital. And not only to embellish white sterile walls, but also to comfort and reassure people in a fragile state. When we go into hospital, we all realise our mortality. As such, there is no better place to display our paintings.” Rocca further added,“Beauty helps us to keep us rooted when we go into hospital, a site where needs conflate.”

Beauty as therapy against strain, pain, fear. Art as comfort,as well as proof that, precisely through the representation of beauty, we can find a way out from the suffering caused by frailty, seek relief from the wounds inflicted by illness, catch a glimpse of light in the fearful darkness of death.

These two news items from Turin and Milan are in some way interconnected, as they both illustrate how science and art, cutting-edge technology and compassion (from the Latin cum and patio: i.e. to share sorrow), are all part of the same human journey – a very civilised journey, a very Italian one.

Life sciences” attest to this, too, as they blend healthcare, nutrition, high-quality education, scientific research, the pharmaceutical industry, the mechatronics and robotics industries (those sophisticated tools used in the most complex surgical procedures, for example), digital services and Artificial Intelligence applications (the employment of disease and therapy data to develop customised recovery pathways, especially for patients suffering from “rare diseases” as well as to establish effective defences against future epidemics).And it’s indeed in the field of life sciences – also thanks to the close collaboration between public bodies and private companies – that Italy boasts a leading position at both European and international levels.

Despite the limitations, flaws and shortcomings that we all know, the Italian healthcare system is seen, in several scientific and medical spheres, as a positive model to be emulated.

So, let’s return to those two terms we mentioned at the beginning: care and heart. Terms that are pivotal to positive thinking, to laying the foundations of a new economy focused not merely – or not as much – on the financial gain of shareholders (profits, stock market prices) but rather on the values that underpin sustainable, environmental and social development. Although the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) needs to be taken into consideration, as a way to quantify economic expansion, we also – and above all – need to nurture the growth of well-being, as measured by the BES (the Italian Equitable and Sustainable Well-being Index) or by the HDI (the Human Development Index) used in UN assessments.

To establish a new balance, economic rationality is certainly required,but equally crucial is a tangible and kind “emotional intelligence”, able to see beyond the boundaries dictated by economics – the “sad science” – and to fulfil the expectations and peculiar blend of wishes, needs, responsibilities and projects of women and men seen as human beings rather than mere producers and consumers.

Care, then, and heart. “I care”, as Don Lorenzo Milan – champion of the people, of generosity and of communal spirit – used to teach the children in the impoverished and remote village of Barbiana. Only in this way the relationship between humanised technology and beauty will truly enhance our quality of life.

(photo: Getty Images)

Caring. for health. for life quality. for development – caring in order to lay the foundations for the “economics of happiness” (discussed in last week’s blog post), and thus have at heart the well-being of the people we interact with.

‘Taking care of’ and ‘have at heart’ – two essential and interrelated phrases that come to mind while scanning the news and learning about an extraordinary feat of surgery to restore the sight of a blind person at the Molinette Hospital in Turin, and the innovative decision to combine art masterpieces and medical treatment at Humanitas Hospital in Milan. Cutting-edge science and technology on one side and profound awareness of the relationship between artistic emotions and therapeutic outcomes on the other –unprecedented visions of innovative cultural syntheses.

The Molinette Hospital (public university hospital) in Turin has been considered an outstanding European healthcare institution for a long time. That’s where the team led by Michele Reibaldi and Vincenzo Sarnicola has performed a feat of autotransplant surgery, a procedure involving the transplant of the entire surface of the left eye – blind but in good conditions – onto the right eye, which had been damaged by an autoimmune disease years before: a world first: and a great success, as the patient – an 83-year-old man – regained his sightand can therefore now enjoy a better life.

The notion of improving the life conditions of hospitalised patients is also what drove the decision taken by the management of the Humanitas Research Hospital (private hospital) in Milan: the walls of its complex in Rozzano now display the magnified images of 23 details from 15 artworks by Raffaello, Piero della Francesca, Bellotto, Crivelli, Hayez and other major artists, a choice made because “art is conducive to healing”, as explained by Gianfelice Rocca, president of Humanitas.

The initiative is called “Brera in Humanitas”, as the images displayed on the walls of rooms and waiting rooms are taken from the artworks exhibited at the Pinacoteca di Brera gallery, and aims to add some colour and emotion to the lives of patients, their relatives, doctors and nurses. James Bradburne, director of the Pinacoteca di Brera, asserted that, “We are bringing some of the museum’s magic to the hospital. And not only to embellish white sterile walls, but also to comfort and reassure people in a fragile state. When we go into hospital, we all realise our mortality. As such, there is no better place to display our paintings.” Rocca further added,“Beauty helps us to keep us rooted when we go into hospital, a site where needs conflate.”

Beauty as therapy against strain, pain, fear. Art as comfort,as well as proof that, precisely through the representation of beauty, we can find a way out from the suffering caused by frailty, seek relief from the wounds inflicted by illness, catch a glimpse of light in the fearful darkness of death.

These two news items from Turin and Milan are in some way interconnected, as they both illustrate how science and art, cutting-edge technology and compassion (from the Latin cum and patio: i.e. to share sorrow), are all part of the same human journey – a very civilised journey, a very Italian one.

Life sciences” attest to this, too, as they blend healthcare, nutrition, high-quality education, scientific research, the pharmaceutical industry, the mechatronics and robotics industries (those sophisticated tools used in the most complex surgical procedures, for example), digital services and Artificial Intelligence applications (the employment of disease and therapy data to develop customised recovery pathways, especially for patients suffering from “rare diseases” as well as to establish effective defences against future epidemics).And it’s indeed in the field of life sciences – also thanks to the close collaboration between public bodies and private companies – that Italy boasts a leading position at both European and international levels.

Despite the limitations, flaws and shortcomings that we all know, the Italian healthcare system is seen, in several scientific and medical spheres, as a positive model to be emulated.

So, let’s return to those two terms we mentioned at the beginning: care and heart. Terms that are pivotal to positive thinking, to laying the foundations of a new economy focused not merely – or not as much – on the financial gain of shareholders (profits, stock market prices) but rather on the values that underpin sustainable, environmental and social development. Although the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) needs to be taken into consideration, as a way to quantify economic expansion, we also – and above all – need to nurture the growth of well-being, as measured by the BES (the Italian Equitable and Sustainable Well-being Index) or by the HDI (the Human Development Index) used in UN assessments.

To establish a new balance, economic rationality is certainly required,but equally crucial is a tangible and kind “emotional intelligence”, able to see beyond the boundaries dictated by economics – the “sad science” – and to fulfil the expectations and peculiar blend of wishes, needs, responsibilities and projects of women and men seen as human beings rather than mere producers and consumers.

Care, then, and heart. “I care”, as Don Lorenzo Milan – champion of the people, of generosity and of communal spirit – used to teach the children in the impoverished and remote village of Barbiana. Only in this way the relationship between humanised technology and beauty will truly enhance our quality of life.

(photo: Getty Images)