SANKT AUGUSTIN Starting in October, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia will discuss the funding requested by the Asklepios Group for the closure. The duration of the proceedings is still open. It is still unclear whether, and if so, how much money Asklepios can get.
Following the announcement by the Asklepios Group to close its children's clinic in Sankt Augustin, there are more questions than answers. It is completely unclear whether, and if so, how much money Asklepios can get from the hospital structure fund. The NRW health ministry confirmed on inquiry that an „expression of interest“ by the child hospital is present.
As reported, the Asklepios group communicated on Tuesday that it requests subsidies from the structural funds of the federation for the closure of the children’s hospital with the country North Rhine-Westphalia. If these are not approved, the management has alternatively applied for funds to close the paediatric heart surgery and paediatric cardiology departments. As reported, the group has been discussing the future of the site for several weeks. The trigger was the imminent departure of two chief physicians of the German Children's Heart Centre to the Bonn University Hospitals, who will be followed by further personnel.
The actual application phase for the Structural Funds, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, will only begin on October 1. Then all applications will go through the "filter": the ministry will consult with the state associations of the health insurance funds and the substitute funds in North Rhine-Westphalia on which applications are eligible for funding. Only then are those with the greatest chances of being approved passed on to the Federal Insurance Office (BVA). This ultimately decides on the approval. It is said that the duration of the procedure is completely open.
With the Hospital Structure Fund, the federal government is making 500 million euros available annually for the years 2019 to 2022. NRW is entitled to around 105 million euros of this. In addition, there is co-financing by the state in the same amount. "However, since the funding is voluntary, there is no legal entitlement," said a ministry spokesman. "The projects are therefore subject to a discretionary decision.
Financing from several money pots
The facts are also complicated because the Children's Heart Centre has been financed from a number of money pots: millions of euros from the Berlin/Bonn Compensation, subsidies from the state and donations from private individuals and companies. In addition, the district is entitled to an annual payment of 115,000 euros - for another 50 years or so.
The Ronald McDonald House and the „Oase“ of the McDonald's Children's Aid Foundation are also located on the grounds of the children's clinic. There are eight full-time employees and 81 volunteers. Jana Klanten, press spokeswoman for the foundation, says that the occupancy figures of the house are currently very good.
There are waiting lists of patients from different specialties. "With regard to the future occupancy of the parents' home, we continue to maintain a close exchange with the clinic and will continue to offer families a temporary home in Sankt Augustin and a retreat in the clinic in the form of the „Oase“ if demand continues," says Klanten.
In the event that the children's clinic closes, various contractual and organizational scenarios will be considered - as at all other locations. "We currently believe and hope that the clinic location will remain intact and that a good solution will be found for patients from the region as a whole," says Klanten.
In the Asklepios Clinic, the paediatric emergency service practice of the established doctors in the Rhein-Sieg district has rented rooms. As the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Nordrhein (KVNO) announced on Wednesday, it must decide on the location in Sankt Augustin and its paediatric emergency service "as soon as we have reliable and official information on the future of the clinic". There have not yet been any talks with the KVNO, their press spokesman Heiko Schmitz said.
For the young patients and their parents nothing changes with the closure plans: The children's clinic and emergency practice will remain in regular operation for now.
(Original text: Hannah Schmitt, Dylan Cem Akalin, Translation: Mareike Graepel)