The doctors of Obersimmental and Saanenland have been following the controversy surrounding the proposed location of Spital STS AG's new hospital. By replacing the hospital in Zweisimmen and Saanen with a new construction in Saanenmöser, Spital STS AG seeks to secure stationary medical provision for generations to come. Concerned by attempts to undermine the project in Saanenmöser, the doctors feel obliged to issue a statement on the debate.
We welcome the decision build a new hospital. Despite open technical questions it is a courageous step, and the only path through which our region can realistically maintain its medical standard and improve its economic efficiency. The only alternative scenario that was presented to the canton includes a health center in both Saanen and Zweisimmen. This would equate to a massive medical and economic cutback, and must be prevented.
To ensure optimal medical coverage of the area between Boltigen and Gsteig, Saanenmöser is ideal. Its central location is suited not only for a hospital but also rescue services. The strategic decision by the board of the Spital STS also includes the conversion of Zweisimmen's hospital into a health centre for long-term patients. Jobs at this institution would therefore be retained. Despite the hospital's location in Saanenmöser, the Obersimmental and Zweisimmen stand to gain financially from the new situation. It is also likely that many of the new hospital's employees will live in the Simmental.
Current hospital financing models involve standardized payments to hospitals by the canton and insurances. These payments depend on the number and severity of cases. Each hospital also needs to have a minimum number of patients to receive financial support. This combined with new regionalized treatment and organizational models without deficit guarantees, as well as numerous other regulations (eg employment laws, product liability), make it continuously harder for small hospitals to sustain themselves. Indeed, the minimum number of patients can only be achieved in partnership with other larger hospitals.
Spital STS AG operates the hospitals in Zweisimmen and Saanen, and several others throughout Bernese Oberland. Spital STS AG has managed to sustain both Zweisimmen and Saanen thanks to the company's high overall number of patients. Yet the government's plan to reduce the payments further will put the current structures under pressure. Optimization with a new hospital is an inevitable consequence. Not only is it optimal for our region, it is also a unique, final chance to secure medical provision. The window of opportunity has a limited timeframe since it goes completely against the general trend of medical centralization.
Hence we do not have time for protracted discussions that may delay the hospital project. We view the petition started by Zweisimmen as counterproductive, and distance ourselves from it. It does not have the medical provision for all our valleys at its heart, and runs the danger of undermining the efforts to save the local stationary hospital provision to the detriment of us all.