Upgrades made to Mediterranean Institute for Organ Transplants and Highly Specialised Therapies

Investment from the EU has enabled the upgrade and expansion of structures at the Mediterranean Institute for Organ Transplantations and Highly Specialised Therapies (ISMETT). The institute is based in the Sicilian capital, Palermo and focuses on treatment of, and research into, end-stage organ diseases.

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The ISMETT building in Palermo © ISMETT The ISMETT building in Palermo © ISMETT

" The facilities will allow ISMETT to care for more adult patients with heart diseases and to provide a brand new facility for paediatric patients with advanced liver diseases. In September 2014, ISMETT was recognised by the Italian Ministry of Health as one of Italy’s 49 Institutes for Research and Health Care (IRCCS). "

Dr Angelo Luca, CEO, ISMETT

ISMETT has gained 33 beds – 22 rooms – for patients in an adjacent building that was completely restored and linked by a futuristic bridge to the original hospital. All auxiliary services such as dressing rooms, storage rooms, drug preparation facilities, a children’s playroom and staff offices were also installed in this new area.

In the original building, 6 new beds for the intensive care unit have been added to the existing 14 beds, while the operating rooms area has been refurbished by modifying the holding area and renewing all of the sterilisation equipment.

A hybrid operating room has also been installed. This is a surgical theatre equipped with advanced imaging devices to enable minimally invasive surgery, which is less traumatic for patients.

Other elements include a new external service staircase with an elevator, a new waiting area for visitors, a staff lounge with a garden space and a fully renovated outpatient care facility in a nearby two-storey building. 

Overcoming regional health differences

Health outcomes in Italy are among the best in the 35 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). At over 82 years, average life expectancy in Italy is the fifth highest among OECD countries.

However, these figures mask profound regional differences in terms of healthcare resources, particularly between the north and south of the country. Investments are needed to enhance public health systems in southern regions such as Sicily and to support them in delivering consistently good healthcare.

As a government-approved research hospital, ISMETT has a key role to play in this. Its partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a leading organ transplant institution, has brought expertise from world-renowned hospitals, research centres, and universities to Palermo.

This has helped to make ISMETT a transplant centre of excellence and a point of reference in the Mediterranean region. Research projects aimed at ensuring availability of the most advanced therapies for end-stage organ disease patients are conducted there.

It is the first hospital in southern Italy to receive accreditation from Joint Commission International, one of the most advanced accreditation systems for hospital quality and safety.

Equipment to further improve care

The equipment financed by the project – including a video-based pathology system, cardiology diagnostic equipment and a vital signs monitoring system – reinforces this position by further improving quality of care, patient safety and diagnostic and surgical precision. The project is also linked to other EU-backed projects, particularly in the field of molecular medicine.

Thanks to ISMETT, Sicilian patients needing transplants and advanced therapies can now receive high quality care in their own region, without having to go to northern Italy or abroad. In 2016, ISMETT carried out a total of 4 919 admissions – 2 822 for inpatients and 2 097 for day patients – some 230 562 outpatient services, 1 551 operations and 4 612 mini-invasive procedures.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Structural investments to improve the public health system in Sicily: ISMETT - Mediterranean Institute for Organ Transplantations and Highly Specialised Therapies” is EUR 17 583 417, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 10 720 922 through the “Sicily” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


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