The Slingeland Hospital in Doetinchem and Streekziekenhuis Koningin Beatrix (SKB) in Winterswijk decided to merge back in 2017. There were good reasons for this, but poor communication caused staff, the public and local politicians to rise up in protest.
At the end of 2019, the bomb exploded: trust was gone and support for the merger disappeared like snow before the sun. Jeltje Schraverus found herself at the head of both hospitals in the heat of the dispute. She had to restore the peace and quickly came to the conclusion that there was only one solution: to undo the merger. An interview with a seasoned administrator.
Exceptionally poor communication
Slingeland needed and still needs a new building and during the planning stage, people realised that it might be useful if, for example, obstetrics, intensive care and acute healthcare were concentrated in the new hospital next to the A18 motorway. That was a rational decision that involved all those who needed to be involved. But when that came to light, things exploded in Winterswijk, because it was written down on paper that the SKB would remain a fully functioning hospital. After that, they no longer trusted anyone and the communication was exceptionally poor."
"You have to take a bit more time to think about the consequences of a merger like that, and discuss those consequences with each other before you go down that whole route, so that you can be sure that you are not caught off guard at the end."
Discuss the consequences
There was also a surprise at the end here. Because suddenly it would no longer be a fully functioning hospital. I can understand the emotion, because something was promised and that was not kept. There have been a few attempts in the past to have the SKB merge with another hospital and all those attempts had failed. So you could have figured out that this was going to be a sensitive issue."
"Those people have grown to dislike each other so much that even if you rationally think that this cooperation should proceed, the emotions get in the way of the chance of success."
These people have grown to dislike each other so much that, even if you rationally think that this cooperation should go ahead, emotions get in the way of any chance of success. So I went back to the Supervisory Board and said: I have come to the conclusion that this can't be done and that is what I plan to let be known. That is what I did, posting a vlog in both hospitals, in which I announced that I was going to start with a demerger. And that this should be a fact by the end of 2020.
In the SKB, they were cheering when we disbanded, but in the Slingeland there was real grief, because they were pinning their hopes on the new building for their hospital. On 1 January, the demerger was a fact and I was appointed Director of the Slingeland.
The SKB also got a new director. Boer & Croon selected both of the new supervisory boards. Both hospitals were completely disentangled from that date."
FINISHING THE CONFLICT
"The moment the Slingeland Hospital manages to complete its new building next to the A18 motorway, the SKB's availability grant will be withdrawn, because the Slingeland Hospital will then be accessible to everyone in the border region within 45 minutes. That's when the problems start. €2.5 million is a lot of money compared to €100 million. They really have to make some choices now. I will stay on for a few more years and then I will make way for a new board. That has to do with the new building for the Slingeland. We are now drawing up a plan to finance this new building to the tune of around €175 million. The initial budget was almost EUR 300 million, but that was far too generous. We are going to build for a quarter less than that. This is also possible in this day and age, because a lot of care has been moved to the primary healthcare sector or can be dealt with through appointments over the phone."
"Everyone is finally finished with the conflict. Don't forget, we also had corona in the middle of it all. So people are ready for something positive and prefer to look ahead into the future."
Jeltje Schraverus (1956) werkt al vele jaren in de gezondheidszorg. Zij startte in de verpleging en studeerde daarna bedrijfseconomie en psychologie. Ook heeft zij de master of health administration gevolgd. Haar werk kenmerkt zich in het begeleiden en leidinggeven aan veranderingen in de zorg, zowel als adviseur (o.a. bij PwC) als bestuurder (o.a. Flevoziekenhuis, Waterlandziekenhuis). De laatste jaren is zij zich meer gaan richten op het interim besturen, wat vaak een combinatie is van de vaardigheden leidinggeven en projectmatig handelen. Zij is inmiddels bekend met alle onderdelen in de zorg. Van gehandicaptenzorg tot en met ziekenhuiszorg!
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