Real entrepreneurs, we know, do not rest on their laurels. So when Professor Sergio Chiappa, the head of radiology at Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Milan, requested a meeting with Fulvio Bracco to make him a proposal, he did not hesitate. Even though he had recently finished construction on the advanced facility for his pharmaceutical company in Lambrate and had opened its first offices in Brazil and Mexico, he readily accepted the new challenge. Here he describes the meeting in his own words: “One day I received a visit from Professor Chiappa, and he tells me about a diagnostic center in the US and one in Cologne, Germany, which had been unsuccessful because it had been affiliated with two hotels where, according to the developers, customers would have to spend a week while undergoing various treatments. The thing is, we do everything in the space of a single day, at an outpatients clinic, Professor Chiappa told me. Our center will be the largest in Europe – and he showed me the plans. This is fantastic, I told him. I have to go to China with Confindustria, but when I get back we’ll talk more about it.”
Shortly after, Fulvio Bracco, with his friend Chiappa and a group of investors from Milan, purchased a large plot of land on the western outskirts of Milan, across from the Military Hospital on via Saint Bon, and began construction in 1971 on what would become the Italian Diagnostic Center (CDI). It was a winning concept, and a genuine revolution. The CDI, in fact, offered an approach to care that was completely novel to Italy: a medical center where you could have all of the diagnostic exams that were available at the time and the so-called “check-up” that was quickly becoming popular in the United States.
“The CDI is one of the creations that I am most fond of,” wrote Fulvio Bracco in his book of memoirs From Neresine to Milan. “I would describe the CDI as a personal obsession of mine, because I have always been interested in the concept of prevention. And at the root of prevention lies examination.” This idea was continued years later by Diana Bracco who, during celebrations for the CDI’s 40th anniversary in 2015 remarked, “Prevention, which was my father’s constant focus, is the essence of our business, as well as the real frontier of the medicine of the future.”
The Italian Diagnostic Center’s success was enormous, positioning itself from the start as a unique provider in Milanese medical care. To give a few statistics on how the CDI is synonymous with excellence: the Italian Diagnostic Center was among the first to offer CyberKnife, cutting-edge robotic radiosurgery for the treatment of tumors; it boasts 6 MRI machines, 2 of which open and, more recently, a DNA sequencer; in over 45 years of operation, 135 million procedures have been performed and 22 million patients have been treated – a noteworthy achievement which comes from continuously updated and advanced technologies, but also from the professionalism, thoroughness, and passion of outstanding doctors and administrative personnel.
In 2005, the via Saint Bon facility was renovated and expanded, taking on its current architectural appearance, enhanced with grand glass windows, an impressive, internal winding staircase and a charming, welcoming garden. In the years following, many other locations were established throughout the city and in the region of Lombardy. New CDI centers have also been opened in all of the areas of “new Milan” – Porta Nuova, Citylife, Portello, Navigli, Bicocca – thereby consolidating its leadership and national role.