Andrà Tutto Bene/Everything is going to be alright!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 1:00pm

by UArizona Integrative Psychiatry Program Observer, Cinzia Bonvecchio 

This message of reassurance has started spreading since the beginning of the lockdown. Everywhere children have drawn a rainbow over these few simple words and the slogan has gone viral during the coronavirus pandemic to boost Italians’ morale.

My name is Cinzia Bonvecchio and I’m an Italian physician in Modena, Italy. I work in an Integrative Medicine Clinic as an anesthesiologist specializing in pain management; I am also an acupuncturist. I’d like to share my experience with you.

When the government locked down public life, forcing millions of people into quarantine, it was shocking for everybody. Some citizens tried to leave – by car or train to go somewhere, anywhere, in a panic. 

During the first several days, there was a lot of bad news resulting in a wave of anguish and fear. Fortunately, for Italian citizens, it also created a sense of personal responsibility to stay at home. It has been tough, we have been overwhelmed by daily bad news, such as lack of ventilators, PPE and intensive care beds. We’ve faced a looming terrible reality as many people tested positive for Covid19 and many were dying. 

In the midst of all this hardship, something beautiful and unexpected started to happen. Instead of giving up, we reacted by finding resources: economical, material, social and, mostly…human. We have received help from Europe, the USA, China and many other countries. Global cooperation has been crucial in this experience, resulting in the knowledge that we need to fight together. Industries such as Ferrari, Armani, Max Mara have converted their manufacturing plants to create PPE products such as masks and gowns.

Through “smart working” many people can still work and keep their jobs. The government is providing economical help for those who have been laid off or have reduced hours.

People are stepping up and donating what they can afford as they want to contribute.

Most grocery stores have a cart at the front entrance where people can donate products for those in need. Associations have come together to help the elderly by providing and delivering food and medications. Mental health professionals are providing free virtual support to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia for civilians and health care professionals alike.

It has been wonderful witnessing the kindhearted compassion this tragic epidemic has inspired in my people. There are paper messages being left on the walls outside the hospitals with messages to doctors and nurses such as “thank you for what you do” or “keep going, you can do it!” Bakeries, pizza restaurants, and everyday citizens are bringing treats to hospitals for patients and healthcare workers. Flash mobs have been seen performing from balconies. There has been singing, lighting candles, and clapping hands as a sign of solidarity along with many other small gestures to show the community that we are fighting in this together.

Italian physician Cinzia Bonvecchio

Isolation is hard, particularly in the beginning, but the loss of routine and freedom becomes less frustrating after a while - as acceptance sets in. 

If you are lucky and healthy, you can spend your new free time trying to find balance in this new world. There is a moment in which you realize that your duty is to stay at home. Your contribution to this battle is to prevent the spread of Covid with social isolation.

There is some guilt for some people who are safe at home, while doctors, nurses and healthcare providers are fighting for everyone else. We can constantly think of friends, family and the sad stories we have read, heard or seen. Isolation doesn't mean that we are alone. We live in a century where technology is making a huge difference, and we can stay in contact virtually. Some hospitals have implemented no-visitor policies, so family members are unable to visit their loved ones. As a result, many electronic devices have been donated through crowdfunding to boost video communication for patients and their families.

During quarantine, we have the opportunity to find new ways to spend time. We finally have time to read, study, rest and reflect on our habits and our lives. We have found time to cook, to play an instrument, to learn a new language, to spend quality time with family, and play with our children. The city is surrounded by a beautiful and unusual silence. The air smells fresh and we can hear the birds singing like never before. The earth seems to be taking a breather, making us experience a balance between mankind and nature that we have been striving to achieve for decades. 

In the cities, a feeling of sadness permeates, but things are getting better. Just today as I write my thoughts to you, the government has declared that the curve is flattening and we’re on the path to lifting the hardest restrictions. Moreover, many scientists are diligently working on finding a solution, and medications have shown some positive results. Many patients are recovering. 

This is a tragic situation and even if we are not front-line fighters, we all have the responsibility to fight this pandemic in the way we are able and find the resilience within us. I hope this battle can be an opportunity for change, personally and professionally, to be reborn, to have more love for our neighbors, to be kinder, more aware and pay attention to our health like never before.

Don’t worry, we’re all in this together and everything will be alright. Andrà tutto bene!