Mayor wants to add underground floor at new hospital after Ukraine attacks

A rendition of Tallinn Hospital.
A rendition of Tallinn Hospital. Source: ERR

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) wants to add a second underground floor to the capital's future mega-hospital due to the changing security situation posed by Russia's war in Ukraine. It would cost approximately €47.4 million.

Plans for a new mega-hospital with seven floors, six above ground and one below, have already been agreed upon and is scheduled to open in 2027. But due to the changing security situation, Kõlvart wants to add one more. This cannot be added after construction starts.

Crisis preparedness in the healthcare sector should be increased with a supplementary state budget, the mayor wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). Additional funding should also be given to hospitals, as vital services, so medical services can continue in emergency situations.

"We are currently in the design phase of Tallinn Hospital, which is why we are proposing to bring back an additional underground floor, which was initially set aside due to cost savings and a tight schedule," Kõlvart wrote.

Due to forecasts at the start of 2021, cuts were made to the plans for the proposed hospital.

"Due to the war in Ukraine and the tense security situation, today we see an urgent need to build a -2 floor with a crisis capacity," the mayor wrote, acknowledging this will push the final construction deadline back by an additional five months.

The area would be used to treat patients and carry out surgery in the event of an emergency situation, such as a major civilian accident, terrorist or military attack.

Kõlvart said Estonian hospitals can not currently operate in this way on the underground floors they currently have.

Under normal circumstances, the second underground floor could be used as an intensive care and operation center training center, locker room for the hospital's 4,000 employees, warehouse, archive or parking lot.

Kõlvart said the space would need to be equipped with items such as backup power sources and an additional oxygen station.

The additional cost of the underground floor is estimated to be €47.4 million including VAT, he said. It is hoped additional funding could be found from the European Union due to the changed security situation.

"With this decision, it is possible to create a safe so-called crisis hospital in the event of a major medical accident. After the completion of the building, it is no longer technically possible to build an additional underground floor," Kõlvart wrote.

The current cost of the hospital and the new medical equipment is €537.6 million.

Since Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, it has deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure including hospitals.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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