"Support for the region is a key factor"

Tue, 02. Apr. 2019

Future healthcare for the region will be ensured by an integrated health network, with a health campus in Zweisimmen and a health centre in Saanen. The working groups have met to take part in a workshop in Gstaad and October is the month when the actual outcomes will be presented.

For decades, the Saanenland-Simmental region has witnessed controversial discussions and debates on the provision of future healthcare. Plans for the regions were presented and then rejected or they failed due to an unwillingness to cooperate. Now, people seem prepared to work together. However, time is of the essence, with rising healthcare costs and an acute shortage of general practitioners. The project managers are coming under mounting pressure, including the Health and Welfare Directorate: A feasible project needs be underway by mid-October. 

A health campus in Zweisimmen and a healthcare centre in Saanen

The concept, presented to the wider public in the Simmental Arena in November 2018, sets out plans for a health campus in Zweisimmen and a health centre in Saanen, as well as an integrated emergency service. The health campus includes a 24-hour hospital emergency service, operating rooms, inpatient beds, medical practices, physiotherapy, ergotherapy, a pharmacy, home care services, sheltered accommodation for the elderly, the Maternité Alpine mother and baby centre and more. The health centre in Saanen includes a 24-hour contact point, doctors' offices, triage and emergency services.

Time is of the essence

Five working groups involving over 80 individuals have been set up to coordinate the project work in the region. Health and Welfare director Pierre Alain Schnegg stressed that he expected all parties to show their commitment. In addition to being willing to cooperate, matters now need to move faster so that plans and projects can become concrete and meaningful, according to a statement given by the Health and Welfare Directorate in a press release. One of the most important areas is defining what is feasible and supporting the future of the region.

A feeling of optimism

Various speakers from home and abroad elaborated on the challenges of integrated care and talked about solutions and their experiences. "This input is important to us," emphasised health director Pierre Alain Schnegg. 

"There's a sense of optimism", which clearly resonated during the following workshop. However, concrete results are yet to materialise. These will be progressed in the next few months and presented to the public on 15 October in the Simmental Arena. A second workshop will take place on 22 June in Zweisimmen. "Support for the region continues to be a key factor", said Project Manager Stefan Stefaniak.

Five objectives

Stefan Stefaniak specified the five objectives to be achieved by 15 October: 1. Setting up organising institution for the network and the campus. 2. Creating both outline and detailed concepts for the network. 3. Creating a financial concept. 4. Clarifying the infrastructure and areas. 5. Identifying the participating service providers. "By October, we need to have the right people in place to make the most of the opportunities and take charge of the project," says Stefaniak.

According to Toni von Grünigen, Mayor of Saanen and co-president of the mountain region, there's a good feeling about the project. "Plenty of people are involved in helping to find a solution." So, it now remains to be seen how the project will take shape.

Based on AvS/Anita Moser
Translated by Justine Hewson

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