The number of Brandenburg residents infected and died with the coronavirus rose by 38 on Thursday to 2017. Potsdam accounted for 171 deaths. The situation is more or less worrying everywhere. That was different during the first wave of the pandemic in spring 2020. At that time, Potsdam stood out negatively. 45 patients at the municipal Ernst-von-Bergmann-Klinikum alone died by April 2 of the year after the coronavirus was detected in a patient for the first time on March 8. The clinic treats residents of the city and the surrounding area.
It can happen that an infectious disease breaks out in a clinic. However, it is then important to take appropriate measures to quickly contain the spread. That didn’t work back then. 59 employees and 99 patients were infected. For too long, the management gave themselves the illusion that this had all happened outside. The virus is only brought in from there. A mistake with grave consequences. Finally it popped. The managing director was changed, the admission of patients was stopped with a few exceptions, the judiciary was investigating. An independent expert commission led by ex-health minister Anita Tack (left) and medicine professor Frank T. Hufert was supposed to investigate how this could happen. The final report has now been published, which has 79 pages plus 40 pages of an appendix.
For months, the twelve-person commission questioned employees and rolled over documents. 2,500 documents were available to her. The result: numerous mistakes were made before and during the pandemic. A basic problem was that the clinic should generate surpluses as much as possible and transfer them to the city, although or perhaps because it was classified as a restructuring case by the McKinsey management consultancy in 2005. After that, the clinic was trimmed for profits, at the expense of cleaning and hygiene, which were increasingly no longer taken so seriously. Unfortunately, the management was oriented towards using therapies for which health insurances could make a real difference. Apparently the course was a success. However, according to the report, insufficient attention was paid to whether new areas and services could be efficient.
There were enough doctors, if the commission is to be believed, but they were not allowed to make decisions. The last word had the commercial point of view. Rooms were overcrowded, beds set up a little apart, and patients were moved back and forth before and after the weekend in order to get by with as few nursing staff as possible, because there was a lack of that. This encouraged the spread of infections – and the management had learned little or nothing from events in the past. The working atmosphere was not suitable for receiving criticism and well-intentioned advice. In addition, the partly makeshift building complex favored the spread of Covid-19. For example, there were too many entrances and exits for it to be easy to control who goes in and out. The experts, one of whom was an architect, now also recommend redesigning the clinic at least heavily, perhaps even building it from scratch on a green field. So far, in a nutshell and by no means exaggerated, the findings of the commission, which sound harsh but fair. Because it is also expressly emphasized at which points the staff could do too little with all their commitment, because there were structural problems and also – this to the address of politicians – financing constraints.
It was by no means certain from the outset that the report would be made available to the public. At the beginning of the week it should only be given to the city council and the public prosecutor’s office. “It is important to continue on the path taken of realigning the clinic with a transparent handling of the report,” says Mayor Mike Schubert (SPD). “It’s about drawing further lessons.”
Commission head Anita Tack picks out one example and recommends: “The work of the supervisory board must be significantly qualified.”