Operating theatres are open again

Thu, 04. Jul. 2019
The team looks forward to a smoother workflow: Patrizia Ledergerber Ruiz (Head of Surgical Technique) and Daniel Rindlisbacher (Head of Anaesthesiology) next to the sterilising machine that looks like an oven. (Blanca Burri)

The new build for the Zweisimmen hospital has been promised for years yet the project keeps getting delayed. Therefore, Spital STS AG has responded, investing CHF 2m in the 40-year-old hospital.

Outside, it’s cold and the rain hasn’t stopped for days. The wet weather is plain to see on the ceiling of the restaurant at Zweisimmen Hospital. Painted grey, the ceiling has several large damp patches. The entire building is aging. It was constructed in 1971 and now needs partial renovation. Overall, Spital STS AG is investing CHF 2m in the building.

A refurbished, newly-equipped operating theatre
One of the first steps is to refurbish the surgical wing. “The furnishings and floors no longer complied with today’s hygiene standards,” explains site manager, Martina Gläsel. Spital STS AG began planning the refurbishment early on, checking out all the necessary work procedures and processes and incorporating the latest findings into the refurbishment plans. After Easter, the surgical wing closed so the refurbishment could begin. For a time, all operations took place in Thun.

The operating theatre is out of bounds to visitors
Before the wing was thoroughly disinfected, the press had the chance to visit the premises. This was a bit like winning the lottery because going into the heart of any hospital is strictly prohibited for hygiene reasons. The entrance area is spacious. Like the rest of the wing, the walls are decorated with mustard-yellow tiles. From there, two automatic doors to the left and right, leading into the preparation rooms, where the surgical teams get ready for operations and patients receive their anaesthesia. Each preparation room has an adjoining operating room.

Hygiene is a top priority
The sterilisation process takes place between the two operating rooms. All equipment and instruments must be free of germs. So, the first step after use is cleaning by hand and by machine. The full sterilisation process takes over an hour. A self-contained ventilation system provides completely germ-free air. “The old floor had several repaired areas, which made cleaning it very hard work,” explains Patrizia Ledergerber Ruiz, Head of Surgical Techniques. It simply had to be replaced. The new state-of-the-art light grey floor meets all of today’s requirements.

CHF 2m invested
At the same time, renovation work took place on the roof of the surgical unit. To make sure the hospital can keep running in the medium term, further investments are planned: The telephone system, X-ray equipment, emergency monitoring, emergency pharmacy and dishwasher in the kitchen are all included to be replaced. Over the last two years, new hospital beds have been purchased.

Investing in the building has long been a no-no because of the new build plans. In contrast, equipment and devices were updated whenever possible. Martina Gläsel: “Every year, our budget is around CHF 400,000 to spend plus replacements that we can purchase after direct approval.” She immediately puts the high investment into context. Two new anaesthesia devices, including monitors, cost more than CHF 220,000. “The money goes so quickly.” Because medical devices have a lifecycle of around ten to twelve years, investment needs to remain high.

Great place to work
Martina Gläsel and Patrizia Ledergerber Ruiz agree: “The Zweisimmen Hospital is part of the Spital STS AG and a great place to work.” They particularly like the direct official channels and the pragmatic way of handling matters. “We all know each other personally and can offer uncomplicated support across different departments. We invest a lot of passion in the company.” Nevertheless, this rural hospital has to fight for its employees. “For example, nursing homes, the Spitex service and the hospital are all competing employers in the care sector.” All medical specialists are already working in one of the local institutions, according to the head of the hospital. There’s a considerable skills shortage. Employees for the emergency department, operating theatre and anaesthesia department are recruited from far and wide. For this reason, Spital STS AG supports employees (including giving them financial support) if they wish to continue their education in the area.

Based on AvS/Blanca Burri
Translated by Justine Hewson


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