The story of Alzira in two speeches

It´s been a month since the Valencian government took over the management of La Ribera Health Department. After almost 20 years of private management, on 1st April, La Ribera began a new stage of direct public management. There are many conclusions to be made about the whole situation, which I will discuss in future blog entries.

The first thing I´d like to reflect on is the fact that the public private collaboration model in the health sector will always be called the Alzira model. It was there where the project was born and gained its reputation as a success due to all the effort, experience, technology etc. among the private sector and public administration, in order to give an excellent, close and sustainable healthcare to citizens.

A great hospital was built (it had been promised for a long time but had never come to fruition) in 18 months and a pioneering management model with innovative, state-of-the-art, transformative initiatives was developed, which showed that reform could be introduced in public healthcare. I want to reiterate that Alzira was the first public hospital in Spain with electronic medical records. It was a pioneering health department in terms of integration between both primary and hospital care and it was the first to introduce an incentive system and equality plan. It´s also unique due to having received visits from more than 100 countries over 5 continents and having been a case study at Harvard University.

Secondly, the Alzira model will also go down in history because it was the Valencian government that had the last word with regards to the extention of the contract, showing that those of us who said that this model is one in which the government have maximum responsibility and have the final decision were indeed correct. It isn´t the privatisation of a public service, which they always wanted to claim. Well, the government decided not to extend the contract without taking into consideration the efficiency  and results of the health model, high patient satisfaction levels, waiting lists or the excellence in care quality.

Unfortunately, institutional loyalty, the basis of public private collaboration, was nowhere to be found. There has been no recognition for a job well done, the good work of the professionals or innovation. Ideology was put before common sense. The private sector has been demonised by 140 character slogans.

A concession isn´t for life and the government needs to make a decision in this respect. The problem with Alzira came to be because of the lack of objectivity and failure to evaluate results and this is very worrying and deplorable. This is due to the fact that, above all, it´s going to be damaging to citizens and professionals. And, as much as it tries, propoganda will not be able to cover up this deterioration. Give it time.

I don´t want to expand on this entry much more but, before concluding, I´d like to share the goodbye letter that I sent to the professionals with you, as well as the speech I gave on Hospital Universitario de la Ribera´s official inauguration day, on the 9th, February, 1999. With these same words and with a feeling of accomplishment, I´m bringing that stage to a close. I´m looking forward to the different projects on which we have embarked, firmly focused on those places that opt for innovation and progress, those that have commitment and trust between institutions as a key element.

Dear colleagues,

In just two days an important period for the Ribera Salud Department will come to an end. I want to thank each and every one of you for all the hard work and dedication that you have put in to treating and taking care of the citizens of La Ribera. Therefore, please allow me to try to put across just how proud I am to have been part of this team.

Without a doubt, you deserve all the credit for the excellent results obtained by Ribera Salud all these years, with every patient, in every situation. The success of Hospital Universitario de la Ribera and its health department, which has become the heart and soul of the region, is yours. Your work is nothing but success, using a management model with which we have already made history: for the quality of service given, for the fast and efficient way in which you tend to patients, for the introduction of new, innovative technologies in Spain. You have been pioneers in techniques and procedures that have considerably improved people’s lives. Because, ultimately, the patients and their families are, and have always been, at the heart of our work, our concerns and our efforts. And this attitude and drive, the key to your success, has been the success of La Ribera.

We have overcome great challenges together. It is not easy to be the first and pave the way for the future of healthcare. Not only were we the first public hospital under private management, also being a regional hospital with specialties and unique reference units in the Valencian Community, but we were also the first to have electronic medical records. We were the first department to integrate primary care, the first to have an equality plan in place and the only one to have received visits from five continents and be studied as a successful case study at the Harvard University.

I’d also like to ask for your forgiveness for the mistakes that have been made and, of course, I assume all responsibility if you feel that I have failed you or not met your expectations in some way. My intention has always been, and continues to be, to strengthen and promote the best team that offers the best healthcare to citizens.

Today, the names Alzira and La Ribera form part of history, with regards to Spanish healthcare and the rest of the world. Rest assured that I will continue to say the name Alzira with pride, pride for all that has been done and achieved over the last 20 years. It may now be without the management model, but Alzira will always be you and your impeccable work. The future of La Ribera is in your hands and I know that you will continue to lead and set an example in the healthcare system.

Thanks a million, for everything, Alzira!

This was the speech that I gave at the official inauguration of Hospital Universitario de la Ribera on 9th, February, 1999, and with these same words I would like to thank you all for your commitment, professionalism and closeness….

Good afternoon everyone,

I would like to welcome you all on behalf of all those who have made it possible for this project to become a reality today. Today we are inaugurating the 26th public hospital in the Valencian Community. This would not be possible without effort from workers, providers and professionals in general, who have fought so that this hospital goes ahead, showing once again that the team is the most important element of an organization.

Hospital de la Ribera is a hospital in which civil society collaborates with institutions in order to provide a better public service for everyone. I want to highlight the efforts of the Ministry of Health and all of the other Valencian government institutions that have closely collaborated to provide better healthcare for all, and that have turned the dream of having a hospital in the La Ribera region into a reality.

Hospital de la Ribera has been created with the principal objective of responding to the needs of the region which has required such a hospital for quite some time. We are aware of the fact that we are responsible for more than 230,000 inhabitants from 29 localities which make up health area 10, who are going to receive quality healthcare without having to travel to Valencia. Due to this, we have used a hospital model based on a different form of public health management. It is an innovative experience, an important step, which will offer services unlike any other hospital in Spain and in a public, free and universal way.

Hospital de la Ribera brings about a new concept of healthcare, as we have introduced the most important healthcare concepts of the next century which are, as we understand, humanization of care and advanced technology. We rely on the high level of motivation of the staff and we will provide continued training in patient care. For this reason, we have created a hospital in which personalized care is given to each patient, respecting their personal needs. This is reflected, for example, in details such as private rooms or the choice of centre and doctor.

We also know that we are part of a sector with big advancements in technology. The hospital has prepared for that, providing the most advanced, up-to-date technology so that patients can receive their care without any delays. More than 10 billion pesetas has been invested in Hospital de la Ribera and as such we can count on our services and set an example. For example, with MRI scans and lineal accelerators, it is clear that this hospital is much more important than a regional hospital. What is more, in Hospital de la Ribera, as it is a new centre, it is also possible to introduce new information systems. Thanks to a truly cutting edge information system, the entire hospital is able to access it and be connected to primary care doctors, which results in an improvement in care quality for the patient. This coordination in primary care is fundamental for the centre to run smoothly.

In this sense, Hospital de la Ribera is the first hospital in Spain to have computerized medical records, which makes all of the information about the clinical history of the patient available to doctors as it is being produced. This includes radiology images and tests carried out in the hospital. This facilitates management and communication between different specialists, as well as establishing both medium and long- term health prevention programmes.

Today, Hospital de la Ribera is an example within the entire Spanish health system, and the almost 800 members of staff that make up our hospital team are ready to take on the challenge. We are going to show that the Hospital de la Ribera model is viable from both a care and a health viewpoint. And this first month’s outcomes regarding the running of the hospital, in which we have seen 63 babies born, carried out 234 surgical interventions and tended to 7,500 emergencies, is very encouraging.

However, it is the patient, with their freedom of choice, who holds the future of Hospital de la Ribera in their hands. Only if the patient is satisfied will the hospital continue, and all of our efforts will be geared towards achieving this.

To conclude, I would like to express how proud I am as a Valencian to be involved in a Valencian project, managed by Valencians and provided for all Valencians. Thank you very much.




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