New Drama in Local Healthcare

Thu, 21. Sep. 2017

After the various openings and closings of health facilities here in Saanen, there is now more unfortunate news for ensuring basic health care in the Saanenland. The Health and Welfare Directorate (GEF) announced last Friday that the financial contribution to Spital STS AG has been rejected.

Spital STS AG, the company that runs Zweisimmen Hospital as well as several others, is "irritated and disappointed," according to their official response. The municipality of Saanen regrets the decision, Zweisimmen is dismayed, and the IG hospital supply Simmental-Obersimmental calls for more financial transparency.

Last February, Spital STS AG filed a request with the canton for an annual subsidy of CHF 3.4 million. The amount would have be used for the sustainable operation of the hospital services while the new hospital building is under construction. From the point of view of the STS AG, the provisional services would have to be financed by the public authorities in order to ensure the sustainable operation of the hospital in need of care with the prescribed basic package.

The GEF board of governors argued that the site could not be operated in a cost-effective manner, and the corresponding operational deficit—which had been sustained for years—would jeopardize the development of the main location in Thun. The GEF has now rejected the request stating, “The costs must be covered by the tariff negotiated with the health insurers." There are also too many open questions for the GEF and they say that if these were answered and the tariffs were renegotiated, another request could be considered.

The IG Hospital Supply Simmental-Saanenland, which calls for "the figures to be made transparent and public," is also in agreement with the GEF.

"STS AG is making a profit, and bonuses in the millions are paid out,” says IG Hospital Supply Simmental-Saanenland.

The GEF recognizes the health care crisis in the region, writing that, "The GEF is aware of the fact that it is a particularly difficult challenge to ensure an acute basic care in the Simmental-Saanenland region.”

The current request, however, they could not approve. The GEF says they remain ready to examine any new application as soon as the bargaining agreements with the health insurers for 2018 are completed and the open questions concerning the planned new building and concept are clarified.



This makes sense as Zweisimmen is so close to the Thun hospital. What did not make sense is that the Canton of Bern did not maintain the Saanen hospital as health coverage is one of the reasons people pay taxes, and Gstaad pays a lot... It seems that Saanen did not defend their case efficiently. Given the local population health care needs, the Gstaad tourism notoriety and the high season population increase, it certainly was justified. The Canton of Vaud must be pleased to increase its clientele in the Chateau d'Oex hospital. For Gstaad residence it is the same distance as Zweisimmen with an easier road.
Actually last time I checked google maps, the Chateau d'Oex hospital is closer than Zweisimmen. Why on earth is it impossible for the Saanenland and Zweisimmen to work together with the Pays d'en Haut and have a chance to achieve necessary critical mass (number of patients, investment in expensive, state of the art equipment, attracting and keeping experienced staff, quality assurance) with a combined project? Is it just the mental 'Rösti ditch' why residents and tourists alike 'enjoy' five 5 star hotels, yet no top of the line local hospital? Affluent seniors are the best potential as year round visitors and they certainly appreciate cultural events but want nearby health care - not wait half an hour and then travel another half an hour and wait another half hour in emergency if the 144 ambulance is available. Even with the best of weather, by helicopter is not faster.

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