The second wave hit Zurich hard. On some winter days, over 500 corona patients were in the hospital. That cost the hospitals a lot. Because caring for corona patients requires around one and a half times as many staff as other patients. And corona patients occupy the intensive care beds much longer than, for example, heart or tumor patients.
To compensate the hospitals for the additional corona costs, the Zurich government adopted a special solution last year. Specifically, the hospitals received a flat rate of CHF 22,800 per intensive care bed for the period from October to February. With 215 intensive care beds, this cost the canton CHF 4.9 million.
Blick research shows that the hospitals were by no means able to operate all IPS beds for which they were paid for. For example, the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital writes that with the existing staff and the exposure to Covid patients, 12 out of 18 intensive care beds could currently be operated. Last year the situation was similar.
The Hirslanden Clinic is also planning to use only 18 of 22 IPS beds due to a lack of skilled workers. The Männedorf Hospital operates five out of seven beds. And the Balgrist University Hospital, which has six intensive care beds, was never able to accept more than two Covid patients at the same time during the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the hospitals were also compensated for beds that were empty. Four unused beds could swiftly flush 100,000 francs into the cash register of a hospital. Hospitals, on the other hand, were able to die partly thanks to temporary staff, all of their IPS beds, such as those in Bülach or Wetzikon, are in poor shape.
Balgrist and Kispi took advantage
Because instead of asking dying hospitals about the actual number of operated beds, the canton has based its calculation on the number of dying hospitals listed in the national hospital statistics. We are aware that these do not perfectly reflect reality, says Jörg Gruber from the Zurich Health Directorate. “Some hospitals may have done a little better, others a little worse. But we find a good distribution key relatively quickly to adequately compensate the hospitals. “
In the meantime, the government has adjusted the system. For the period from August to October, the hospitals receive new performance-related contributions per treatment day for Covid patients and a lump sum for the existing normal and intensive care beds. “Thanks to the bills from last year, we know better today about the actual costs of the hospitals,” says Gruber.
Hospitals are happy about the aid package
The latest aid package – which, among other things, is intended to compensate for the excessively low rates for corona treatments – is well received by the hospitals. “This is an important signal for us,” says Ronald Alder from the Association of Zurich Hospitals. The hospitals would have run a daily deficit of 700 to 2000 francs per patient for the treatment of corona patients in the intensive care unit. The compensation is therefore urgently needed.
However, the fact that some hospitals were also compensated for empty beds during the second wave is not a big issue. “The hospitals show solidarity with one another,” says Alder. The main thing is to find a place for all patients.
Nursing staff leave the job
However, this could become even more difficult in the future. Because the personnel situation in the hospitals is tense. More and more carers are tired after four waves of corona and are leaving their jobs. This is also evident at the national level: of the 873 certified IPS beds, only 845 can currently be operated due to a lack of staff.