Crises further demonstrate the need for a new hospital to offer modern infection control capacity, add beds and allow us to make better use of our limited medical personnel. That is why the government needs to match Tallinn's contribution of €150 million toward the medical campus, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik writes.
Talk of a medical campus for northern Estonia has been around for decades. It is an investment that should have been made years ago. The 2000 hospitals network development plan pointed to the need to reorganize the capital's healthcare network and provided a clear assessment to the East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITKH) buildings on Ravi tänav.
"The central hospital's buildings should be renovated, which would keep the complex usable for another 10-15 years. After that, a new hospital building needs to be constructed. The time should be sufficient to find the location of the new hospital. The Tallinn hospital network is out of balance. All current hospitals are located in the western part of the city. Based on this, it would be sensible to move the central hospital east by constructing a new medical campus."
The last 20 years have seen the gradual construction of the modern Maarjamõisa medical campus in Tartu (Tartu University Hospital - ed.) and investments in stages in the North Estonia Regional Hospital (PERH), network of smaller hospitals and health centers all over Estonia. Tallinn central hospitals, responsible for 25 percent of all specialist medical care in Estonia, have not seen such government-level support and development.
The planned Tallinn Hospital would cover an area that is home to 600,000 people. It's service area would include Harju County, Lääne County, Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Rapla County and parts of Ida-Viru, Lääne-Viru, Pärnu, Järva and even southern Estonian counties.
Tallinn Hospital's planned specialist medical care volume is that of the current East Tallinn Central Hospital and West Tallinn Central Hospital's combined. Harju County residents will make up 47 percent of outpatient, 55 percent of day treatment and 47 percent of in-patient volume. Therefore, the planned hospital will be offering medical services to a large part of the population and is not meant just for the capital's residents.
The north Estonian medical campus will boost initial diagnosing capacity and offer faster specialist referrals.
The patient will spend less time entering the healthcare system and running between scattered facilities. The new campus with its modern working environment will create even better possibilities for various specialists and experts to work together.
Modern planning will make it possible to effectively use space and flexibly change layout. The hospital will also create the capacity to rapidly react to situations of heightened demand for medical services.
A modern hospital needs to offer an attractive working environment to medical professionals who prefer to work in their own country. Modern working conditions are a prerequisite for Estonia having enough doctors and being able to offer patients top care in the future.
Government contribution needed
The second stage of the Tallinn Hospital functional development plan, approved in 2019, gave the project a clearer outline and made it possible to move on to the detailed plan.
Last year marked a milestone for the project as difficult negotiations culminated in securing partial funding from EU recovery fund resources.
The hospital's detailed plan and design work was launched last year. The project is the responsibility of Italian companies ATIproject srl and 3TI Progetti that have designed over ten new hospitals.
The project is being realized in close cooperation with the city of Tallinn that decided to create the Tallinn Hospital Development Foundation last week. The estimated total cost of the Lasnamäe campus of the Tallinn Hospital, complete with crisis hospital capacity and two underground floors, is ca €585 million as of April 2022. Estonia's recovery and resilience plan stands to cover €280 million of the cost, with Tallinn contributing at least €140 million.
I deem it important for the government to put an estimated €150 million toward this century's most important healthcare project, more should construction prices continue to climb.
At the same time, talks on ways of covering costs between the city and the central government will continue, as will efforts to make sure the hospital is built and opens its doors in 2028.
This year will see the Tallinn Hospital conceptual design and 2023 the main design that will allow construction tenders to be launched. Therefore, it is very important to reach an agreement on supporting the hospital's construction at state budget strategy deliberations. The chance to use EU funds in similar volume for the project might not come again.
Editor: Marcus Turovski