Gstaad International Healthcare clears hurdle as Saanen voters approve hospital plot

  04.07.2023 Local News, Healthcare, Municipal - Politics, Local News, Business

In a significant development, Saanen voters have given their resounding approval to make the old hospital plot available to Gstaad International Healthcare AG (GIH). This private clinic has now successfully overcome the initial obstacle and can proceed with its planning efforts.

The June community meeting held in Saanen had a concise agenda featuring only three items. Alongside the approval of the annual financial statement, which passed without discussion and showcased a surplus of 14.5 million Swiss francs, the second agenda item, “Gstaad International Healthcare AG (GIH): Hospital plot,” was the expected focal point of debate. Approximately 10 percent of eligible voters in Saanen, totalling 391 individuals, attended the meeting at the Saanen church.

Initially, the SP Saanen, represented by Martin Hefti, tabled a motion to reject the proposal. Their argument was centred around the need for a contract negotiation between the municipality of Saanen and GIH, which should be presented at an upcoming municipal assembly. The SP Saanen also demanded a written assurance from GIH that patients with basic health insurance would have free access to all diagnostic equipment upon a doctor’s order. Additionally, they requested public disclosure of how staff accommodation would be addressed. However, the motion for rejection was defeated with 264 votes against and 111 votes in favour. Another proposed amendment by Philippe Marmet, calling for the entire former hospital plot to be made available in building rights, also fell short, receiving 102 votes in favour compared to 234 votes against the original motion.

A supplementary motion introduced by Emanuel Raaflaub shifted the discussion. The motion proposed granting approval to GIH for the further development and planning of the health project while emphasising that the final decision on the use of the hospital plot must be submitted to the municipal assembly. It also called for full disclosure of all contracts and agreements in advance and stated that no costs could be reclaimed from GIH if rejected. This supplementary motion garnered support with 222 votes in favour and 131 votes against.

Ultimately, the majority of voters approved the municipal council motion, extended by the supplementary motion, by a narrow margin of two-thirds. The final vote stood at 235 votes in favour (62.5 percent) and 141 votes against (37.5 percent).

The proposed project, “Gstaad Medical Campus,” entails making the entire former Saanen hospital plot, GBB No. 3423, with an area of 7959 square meters, available to GIH AG for the construction of a private clinic and public health and care services. The commitment is valid until June 30, 2026.

The project encompasses various healthcare services, including a medical group practice, outpatient care, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare providers. The group practice will serve as the primary access point for accident first aid, suspected cases (e.g., heart attack, stroke), and referrals from general practitioners. The campus' private clinic will provide comprehensive primary care services.


Editors footnote: Prior to the Community vote, Gstaad International Healthcare held an information event open to the public, on 23 May. The transcript of the meeting can be found in the online version of this article.

The Gstaad Medical Campus project originated from the vision of Dr. Ralph Kray, and extensive collaboration between cantonal authorities, international experts, and local supporters transformed it into a comprehensive medical and business concept. GIH AG was founded on February 5, 2021, by Ralph Kray, Walter Egger, Markus Kappeler, and Babette Herbert, with the aim of promoting the sustainable development and long-term establishment of the Medical Campus in Saanen.

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