Our move to Lisbon almost coincided with me suddenly going from not caring much about health issues, to being extremely focused on our recently born first child.

Our Sons’ first emergency happened when we were traveling in Lisbon Portugal for the first time. Elio, then 4 months old, had a terrible cough and difficulty breathing, and we had to spend the night in the hospital Dona Estefania, without speaking the language, waiting for analysis to get back until we could go home. In the following pictures, it’s us the day after trying to recover from the horrendous night with a Brunch at Pão de Canela, while a stranger (which then became friend) offered to hold Elio while we were eating.

Since then we have visited the Public Hospital at least twice a year, both with Elio and Elsa and I must admit, I was rarely impressed by the quality of the hospital facilities and I didn’t always approve the ways they handle the kids, even though we always got out in a few hours and with some solutions to our problem. I also know that doctors and nurses work hard and are underpaid, so I still respect their work very much. 

The most difficult part was during Pandemic, when we were living isolated at home and going to the doctor felt like an health hazard: this following picture was me and Elio going to the hospital in the days right after the beginning of the second lockdown.

He had a throat infection with symptoms very similar to Covid and I was so worried: it was the first time I had to leave Elsa for so many hours, and Elio was in so much pain.

We are luck enough to have a SNS family doctor, which thousands of people in Portugal don’t have, but going to the Centro de Saude can require a lot of patience, as you can’t book appointments for emergency check up, plus most center are overload with patients, especially in the winter time.

I really appreciate Universal Healthcare, and our beloved doctor at our Centro De Saude, but in our experience both Portugal and sometimes Italy have been struggling with offering kids friendly services: lack of doctors, old facilities, long waiting list, difficulties in booking appointments. I am aware that most of the time this is about structural and financial problems and not lack of effort from professionalism from the workers (doctors, nurses etc.).

We have also been at hospitals in Italy when on holidays, and also there the experience was mixed, depending on the hospitals and on the time of the year: in the pictures below, two different visits for traumatology issues, our family specialty.

Do you use the public or the private health system in Portugal? How did you decided which system to go for?  Feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Make sure to check my post tomorrow about a new medical Center in town.