MiLove. Shop, and donate a doctor’s appointment


From Sergio Rossi shoes to Valentino purses, from Twinset and Golden Goose dresses to high-class perfumes. But even designer’s items and furniture, linens, and high-fashion accessories. Portanuova, in Piazza Gae Aulenti, now hosts MiLove, the charity temporary shop selling top fashion brand products at extremely discounted prices to support the Visita Sospesa® (‘donated visit’) project. The project gives the opportunity to individuals and families going through personal and financial hardship to have free access to medical care at various health centres.

We met Emanuela Verna, Director of the Visita Sospesa® project, and asked her a few questions.

PN > 'O cafè suspiso’ (‘suspended coffee’), a Neapolitan philanthropic and sympathetic habit of Naples has inspired and given its name to the Visita Sospesa® project. What struck you about this concept?
EV > The appeal of the ‘suspended coffee’ is indeed its mutualistic connotation. In the latter case, you drink a coffee but buytwo, while with Medici in Famiglia things are even easier: by choosing to rely on Medici in Famiglia professionals for your healthcare services, you do something good for yourself because you keep your health monitored, and – in parallel – you do something good for someone else. When you choose this health centre over another, someone after you will have access to healthcare. As for MiLove, this chain effect is even more reverberant: you buy something nice for someone – like a pair of Sergio Rossi shoes – and at the same time, you cure someone who would otherwise not afford it. As simple as it is, this is the power of the Visita Sospesa® message.

PN > Speaking of Medici in Famiglia, how relevant is the link to the Visita Sospesa® project? How does the visit booking process work and how do you manage waiting lists?
EV > We do not select those who may benefit from Visita Sospesa® ourselves but have set up a network of over 80 partners at the moment, including public schools, family paediatricians, general practitioners, UONPIAs (operating units for child and adolescent neuropsychiatry and psychology), hospitals, public service organizations, and lots of representatives of the non-profit sector – social cooperatives, social enterprises, volunteering organizations, and parish churches that identify vulnerable individuals or families for us. For years now we have worked with the local ‘QuBì’ networks, a project by the CARIPLO foundation to identify child poverty in various neighbourhoods of Milan. The partner institution reports the family and its needs, and our office gets in touch with it and books the first visit available. If the family requires an orthopaedist visit, and the doctor is available in two days, the patients will be visited regardless they are paying or using a Visita Sospesa®. There are no two separate channels. We believe all patients are equal. Whoever needs a service will be provided such service in good time. We have no waiting lists in any department, also because the strength of Medici in Famiglia is that we’ve been able to attract an abundance of specialists over time.

Every area offers a time frame – from the call to the appointment – between 3 and 5 working days, even in fields in which the public sector struggles most, such as child neuropsychiatry, ophthalmology, dermatology, or gynaecology. Therefore, there are no waiting lists.

PN > What if I asked you how you see the project 5 years from now?
EV > We hope that in 5 years the project will end because we hope there will no longer be the need for Visita Sospesa®, and that the national health service will be less crippled and manage to cater to all demands. This way, we would collect funds for projects outside the healthcare area, which should be – in my opinion – everyone’s right, as written in the Constitution. If I look at things more realistically, perhaps I would like there to be at least 10 – not 100, but 10 – other projects like ours in Italy.

PN > What kind of appeal does the charity world have in Italy and Milan? What is your take?
EV > Nowadays, because of the pandemic – which had at least one positive effect! – there is a great focus on health. In particular, children’s health. We work with a myriad of children who have recently entered Italy or that grew up in non-Italian-speaking contexts and – between the lockdown and distance-learning – have not seen much of school at all, or have seen it through face masks, with the related language difficulties and confusion. I believe we will see the real side effects of the pandemic in the medium-long term. To not act today means we will record devastating consequences on children. A few research studies have already been conducted and the data collected in terms of mental health is rather alarming. We have seen a boom of child neuropsychiatry visit requests for a series of disorders expressed as tics, compulsive habits, trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling), the classic nail-biting, and a long series of diagnoses and fears which have reached levels never seen before.

PN > Back to MiLove, what is the origin of the name?
EV > MiLove is a pretty recent name. Before the pandemic it was not so much a temporary shop; we were used to organize a big event in the springtime. It was all concentrated in 3-4 days. The restrictions of the pandemic, which did not allow us to gather so many people over a single weekend (there was a real queue outside the shop!), led us to think that a little temporary shop open for a longer time and with the possibility to restrict access could be a better idea. We’ve all become experts in queuing by now. So we said, “while we are changing the nature of the event, why not change the method, the logo, and even the name?”. So we decided to draw inspiration from our act of love towards the city of Milan, thus ‘Mi-Love’. The heart is also included in the Visita Sospesa® logo.

PN > Can anyone support you, even a private entity or a company? How?
EV > The best way to support us is to choose us for your healthcare. This is a good start. And sure, we can accept donations from anyone.

PN > So can we say that “shopping is healthy”? (men, open your ears!) Can we tell this to our malefriends, boyfriends, and husbands?
EV > Absolutely yes! And in this case, it is twice or three times healthy: for those who receive a gift and for those who, thanks to that same gift, receive an even greater gift, which is healthcare. We cannot raise the bar any higher.

PN > Can we say that at MiLove we can find haute couture?
EV > Not only. We receive boxes and boxes, for all budgets. We collect donations from Benetton, Gallo, Dr. Martens, and Carpisa.

PN > A multiplication of doing good! One last question. I would like to know how your experience at the store in Piazza Gae Aulenti is. What could the Portanuova District do to support your mission?
EV > Word-of-mouth is the key. We are a multiplier of generosity. Piazza Gae Aulenti is a very pretty and central location, but if people don’t know there is a shop there, they won’t necessarily look for it, because there hasn’t always been one. In this sense, word-of-mouth helps us promote the fact the store exists, and it sells nice products that you can buy at prices much lower than they would normally cost, and this is all for a good cause.

PN > Could it help that Portanuova is a fashionable district, that shopping-lovers, and a large number of people in general, assiduously visit, because it is one of the most popular Shopping Districts in town?
EV > Of course, no doubt!

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