The 2009 L'Aquila earthquake occurred in the region of Abruzzo, in central Italy. The main shock occurred at 3:32am local time on April 6th, 2009, and was rated 5.8 on the Richter scale and 6.3 on the moment magnitude scale; its epicenter was near L'Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo, which together with surrounding villages suffered most damage. The earthquake caused damage to between 3,000 and 11,000 buildings in the medieval city of L'Aquila. Several buildings also collapsed. 308 people were killed. Twenty of whom were children. Approximately 65,000 people were made homeless. In L’Aquila there are 100 general practitioners (GPs) serving the citizens living in the earthquake zone.
HPRT has pioneered the integration of mental health into primary health care in post conflict and disaster settings (eg. Bosnia, Cambodia and Perù). This model was applied to the disaster situation in L’Aquila. HPRT organized a project for training the Italian GPs in L’Aquila in screening, listening to the trauma story, prescribing psychotropic drugs, and providing psychological support (i.e. “first aid”).
In September 2009, HPRT faculty met for four days in Cambridge, at Harvard, with the professor of Psychiatry at L’Aquila School of Medicine (UASM) and with the Director of Family Medicine for General Practice of Abruzzo (FIMMG) to plan and implement a major technical assistance summit in L’Aquila in September 2010 to train all general practitioners working in the Abruzzo earthquake region. An innovative model of general practitioner supervision was set up as well at L’Aquila Medical School. In September 2010, Italian GPs (N=100) were trained to identify, diagnose, and treat the majority of their patients with trauma caused mental health problems, including depression, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and grief reactions. Validated and translated Italian version of “HPRT Toolkit” and screening instruments were provided to the GPs. This was the first systematic mental health training of GPs in Italy. The HPRT Abruzzo Model can be expanded to other regions, used as a model during the next disaster, and translated into major disaster relief policy by the Italian government.
Donors: National Italian American Foundation (NIAF); U.S. Embassy Rome; Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Orvieto; Unicaritas of Rome.
HPRT Faculty: R. F. Mollica, MD MAR; J. Lavelle LICSW.
HPRT Italian Team: G. Muscettola, MD; F. Paparo, MD; M. Ammaniti, MD; G. Nicolais, Phd; S. Graziano, Clinical Psychologist; S. Toscani, Lawyer; I. Toniolo, MD; C. Zaetta, Clinical Psychologist, F. Persichini, Clinical psychologist. F. Kusmann, MD.
UASM partners: R. Ronconi, MD; M. Casacchia, MD; A. Rossi, MD; R. Pollice, MD.
Music: Only Time, by Enya
FIMMG partner: W. Palumbo, MD.