Since becoming a mother, I have taken a new perspective on health and doctors: I was generally never worried when being sick and never used the doctor between my 20 and 30, except on rare occasions.

But since my son was born, things got real and our visits to the doctors and hospitals started to become a reality. Since we came to Lisbon in 2016 when Elio was only 4 months old, we had experience mostly with the Portuguese system but previously with the Danish network and eventually with the Italian system when on holidays.

Throughout our time in Lisbon, we have been luckily enrolled in our local Centro de Saude and even got assigned a family doctor, which thousands of people are lacking in the country: so we are lucky users of the Health National System (SNS), but it’s not perfect and sometimes it’s easy to feel lost, especially at the time we were going through a pandemic. 

What I value when accessing healthcare are the following:

  • Fastness of receiving care
  • Easy booking of appointments
  • Little to no waiting time
  • Reliability of doctors
  • Easy referral to other specialists
  • Nice environment (like waiting rooms with kids’ toys etc.)

I was positively surprised when Amélie Poncelet from Alegria Medical Centre reached out to me some months ago, to talk about a possible collaboration: I didn’t know about this new center, but I definitely know the feeling of having to deal with the local medical system as a foreigner, and also know the feeling of having your child in pain and not knowing where to turn for help and support. 

Alegria Medical Centre is a multidisciplinary health center dedicated to international patients: it is located in a very central and calm corner of Lisbon, Praça Alegria, on the third floor of a building overlooking the square and the Principe Real hill. 

The Center offers a wide range of specialties, from Pediatric to Nutrition, to more holistic and natural practices like Acupuncture Osteopathy, and Hypnotherapy, with the great addition that most of them speak fluently two to three languages: Portuguese, French, and English, which will be great if your child only speaks one of these languages. 

At the Alegria Medical Centre most practitioners are women, and many specialize in women’s health, like Gynecology, Nursing care, or Pelvic floor rehabilitation with the one and only Joana da Ponte: in this regard, one of the missions of the ACM is to be able to support many families’ medical needs in one place. 

To check the Center, in order to be able to research for this post, we were granted one pediatric visit for Elio back in June: that was exactly during the Santo Populares as you can see from the picture. As you can easily check on Google Maps, the location is very convenient for everyone living in the city center of Lisbon. 

We were able to book our appointment on their easy-to-use websites, by checking the doctor’s availability. We were remembered the appointment via phone the day before, and when we arrived we had to go through a quick check-in as it was our first time at the center.

The Center facilities are new and minimalistic, but the attention to detail it’s impressive, and there are always things to entertain the kids in each room: our appointment with Doc. Sara Azevedo was early in the morning, we didn’t need to wait any time. 

The appointment was for a general 7-year-old check-up: Elio was involved in all the different steps and the doctor was very patient, as she let him explore all the instruments, but she also allowed him to take his time to ease into the visit. 

As she was speaking both English, and Portuguese, plus a bit of Italian, Elio felt quite comfortable: being involved in the process, put him also at ease, which can be tricky at these kinds of appointments. 

The booking system available online, makes the experience even easier, with easy-to-read costs, and availability: some specialists are available also in the weekend, with a small extra fee. Alegria Medical Centre has many agreements with different insurance; from the local ones like Medis and Medicare to other insurances commonly use by expats and travelers which are also another portion of Alegria audience. 

Compared to big hospitals or big networks, the medium size of Alegria Medical Centre, makes everything smoother and less complicated, starting with the wide availability of doctors, the easy-to-reach location, and the less busy waiting room. 

If you are looking for medical services, I really suggest checking Alegria Medical Centre services at their websites available in English Portuguese, and French by clicking on the banner below or use this link .