TALLINN - The largest Estonian island of Saaremaa has a plan to build a new hospital in Kuressaare with the support of the European Union that would meet the needs of the county's residents in the coming decades as well, the regional Saarte Haal writes.
"Although everything related to the construction of the new hospital is still hypothetical and no decision has been made yet, a plan does indeed exist," Kalle Laanet, Saaremaa rural municipality council member and chairman of the supervisory board of Kuressaare Hospital, said. "After all, we must be guided by what our people will need also in the future, in the coming decades."
According to Laanet, what inspired to think more seriously about a new hospital was the words of Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik, when the minister came to open the Kuressaare helipad last October. The minister said that it would be possible to apply for funding for the construction of a new building of Kuressaare Hospital in the new European Union period, and asked if Saaremaa would be interested in it. After Kiik's visit, the matter was discussed by the coalition council of the rural municipality council. "We found that we are interested in the matter and the rural municipality was to also give such a message to the minister of social affairs," Laanet said.
The topic of a new hospital is currently being dealt with by two working groups -- one on the location and one on the content, including services. The location for the new building complex has not yet been selected. "There is a discussion open on possible locations and their pros and cons," Laanet said. "All suggestions are welcome."
According to Laanet, the size proposed for the new hospital is 25,000 square meters. As the construction price per square meter is currently a little over a thousand euros, the construction would cost approximately 30 million euros. Two thirds or 20 million euros of this could be requested from the European Union Structural Funds, but one third or 10 million euros would be the self-financing of the Saaremaa rural municipality or Kuressaare Hospital.
Offered in the new building would be specialized medical care, or services provided under a contract with the Health Insurance Fund. However, according to Laanet, the current hospital complex could become a center where, in addition to healthcare services, the social services provided by the rural municipality are concentrated. "Figuratively speaking, a person could receive the services necessary during their entire life cycle from one place," Laanet said.
"So far, this is only a conceptual design of which county hospitals could be given a national priority in order to adjust the active care infrastructure," Mart Kolli, member of the management board of Kuressaare Hospital, said. "The dream of a Kuressaare hospital will definitely one day come true, but it is difficult to say when."
According to him, one of the most important questions is to think about the best location for the new hospital. "Focusing only on Aia Street is perhaps not the smartest," Kolli said.