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Digitalisation and reindustrialisation, more lessons from this crisis

23 abril, 2020 • By

Last Friday I was interviewed on Cadena Ser by Amadeo Salvador and Arturo Blay, with whom I talked about the importance of global strategies when facing healthcare crises like COVID-19, how this worldwide emergency has proven that we need digital technology and the importance of undertaking an urgent reindustrialisation in Spain. As I have said in this interview and in similar statements that I made in the Levante-EMV newspaper and several blogposts, this worldwide pandemic has allowed us to prove that we can do many things very well without being physically present. Also, not having the resources to produce all the necessary supplies in Spain, at a time like this, has been detrimental. We should not leave two areas such as industrialisation and research completely in the hands of other countries, so that we can always have our own resources, when necessary.

– Journalist: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you realise that unfortunately in the Community of Valencia we have already had 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19?
We are facing the first pandemic of the 21st Century. And, unfortunately, I hope that we learn consequences from this new disease and the challenge we are facing for the future. But we are definitely living through a dramatic tragedy. 

– Does the fact that Germany invests three times more in healthcare than Spain have to do with their country being less affected than us?
Many conclusions must be drawn. First, it is affecting the northern hemisphere much more than the southern hemisphere. I am really worried about what is going to happen in less-developed countries when southern winter starts. This week, at Ribera Salud and in collaboration with the World Bank, we have had the opportunity to explain to 150 government, public and private institutions the experience we have had facing this situation. Because, from the point of view of solidarity and sharing knowledge, we realise that this is a global epidemic and we must respond globally and share experiences. Right now, Europe has become the epicentre of this pandemic. And, more or less, collective decisions have been made. Which I think is very important: creating this kind of collective strategies and organisations. 

Some countries have decided to perform massive testing from the beginning. Which means numbers do not add up, they have many cases but an exceptionally low mortality rate. In Spain, we may possibly have more cases than we officially recognise, precisely due to the lack of massive testing. Something that we are now trying to correct. 

– Have there been warnings in recent history? Where there precedents that could have made us suspect that this could happen?
There have been other cases of warnings by the World Health Organization with SARS, and other cases that were stopped. Because that virus did not have the same characteristics as this one. I would say that it is a virus that spreads easily. And that is something that was possibly unknown or could not have been foreseen at the beginning of the disease. Only China, the source of it, was able to contain it by isolating the entire region of Wuhan. 

But it has spread very quickly because it is easily transmitted. It also has a peculiar development, in that there are no standard parameters, or at least, to date, they are unknown. And it affects people who initially seem to have similar physical conditions very differently. Some are much more intensely affected than others. And we have cases of young people who are seriously compromised. And children are hardly affected. It has focused on adults. 

In our case, for example, we know that we are in four autonomous communities. We have seen the mortality rate of all the people that have died in our hospitals, 90% of them are over 70 years old. And, for example, 75% are men, which is also something that should be studied. 


– Should national industry be strengthened so that we do not run out supplies?
In an article I wrote a few days ago, I was saying that one of the lessons we must learn from this situation is that we must strengthen global organisations. It is obvious that the virus does not distinguish between regions, borders or ideologies. If we want to provide an effective response, we must do so globally. And coordinating country strategies, especially among European countries, is essential. But we must also think about the future. For example, we must invest more in digital technology. Now we are trying out how organisations can be connected without being physically present. Investing in digital technology can be a good lesson. 

Regarding reindustrialisation, we have realised that not having solutions within the country, at a time like now, has left us at times defenceless to get essential supplies to ensure the safety of our professionals and citizens. Therefore, this service economy that we have developed has perhaps proven that, at this time, it should be reformulated in favour of reindustrialisation. 

And a third topic that I find really interesting: if we want to be a leading country, we must invest in research. And not depend on third parties, but have enough independence. These are the three lessons I think we should focus on moving forward. 


– What do you think about the statements that have been made about public healthcare?
I feel like a manager of public healthcare and I think it must be taken seriously. I would like for the people who write headlines about public healthcare without really understanding how it works, to think more about experts and technicians for once. And less about slogans, populism, and idioms. We have a strong public healthcare in Spain because it has great professionals, who are the real heroes of this story. And within public healthcare, which we value so much now that we are in a crisis, what we can and must do is talk about how to make it more effective. I think we have proven that we must be very fast and search for very flexible formulas to be able to face a crisis. 

And if we want to be strong enough within the healthcare world to face these situations and the challenges of the 21st Century, we must not forget ageing or chronicity. And learn to combine forces… Combine the resources of the Administration, the State, the Government as well as private resources. And we must not be afraid of realising that right now we are all together. Public healthcare managed by the Government, by companies like ours and private healthcare, all working hand in hand. It is a good example for the future. The fact that we can work together towards a goal, which is to provide citizens a better service. 

– Do you think that we have taken advantage of all the elements that private healthcare can offer?

It depends on the situation. For example, in Madrid and Catalonia, where the crisis has been greater, there has been a single authority, called “Plan 102”, where public, private, and public-private resources, which is what we are, had exactly the same value. Because there was an urgent need to do so. In the Catalan system, where historically the public and state-subsidised sectors often work collectively, no issues have arisen, and they have worked well together. In the Community of Valencia, we considered the need to work together. But fortunately, the system has not become overrun as many managers feared. And the intense collaboration with the private sector that was expected has not been necessary. 

I think this is positive because it has not been necessary. But we appreciate and recognise that all the private clinics have been at the disposal of the Healthcare Department. 


– What do you think about the fact that many people have stopped going to PHC clinics, or self-medicate, or A&E Departments are quite empty…?
At all our centres in the Community of Valencia we are doing many virtual consultations with other specialities. Many have preferred to stay home to follow the recommendations, because they do not want to risk becoming infected and have preferred to not come to hospital. But that does not mean that the tools are not in place. This is why I insist on investing in digital technology. We have a health portal called “Yo Salud” [My Health]. We are amazed by how its use has increased among citizens to stay in touch with hospital and PHC professionals, with a 900% increase this month. 


Before we had 100 consultations, now they have been multiplied by 9. Therefore, one lesson is that, obviously, there are serious diseases where you definitely have to go to the A&E department. But for communication about chronic diseases, going to the physician is not indispensable, although being in touch with them is. And we must promote formulas such as digitalisation. 

– Spain has a lot of fibre optics, but digitalisation is more than that, right?
These are discussions that come up in recent years. Seeing how we can improve citizen-patient communication, not only with physical visits, which are essential. But also, in cases like high blood pressure, being able to send your physician a message saying “Hey, I don’t feel well but I’ve taken my blood pressure, here are the results” and for your physician to reply… We must promote that closeness in communication and being more in contact. 

This is another challenge that the crisis is bringing to the table. And now, when they were announcing the data, I remembered something essential: the necessary relationship between the hospital and healthcare sector in general and the social sector. We have been talking about social-healthcare space for years. And perhaps this crisis has made us realise that we have focused all our attention on the healthcare sector, especially on how to strengthen hospitals to respond to this crisis. And care in nursing homes has been overlooked. Unfortunately, we are seeing tragic data. But now is the time to think about that idea of social-healthcare space. 

– Could the system collapse when this current crisis is over because of everything that is not being treated?
We are starting to look into how to set ourselves in motion again. Because we have already overcome this critical phase where it was difficult to foresee what would happen the following week, we had to be ready for the worse outcome and we have been focused on getting by day-to-day. 

Now that we are not absolutely obsessed by this, we must start thinking about what happens after the crisis. And we are working with a concept that is very important: working with the maximum safety for our professionals and our patients. Because we must move forward. And that is something that I am also insisting on many times: on doing massive testing. Because, when we are sitting next to each other, we need to know who is asymptomatic and who has had the disease to try to lead as normal a life as possible. That is why we must insist time and again on doing massive testing. 

This is the link to the full interview on Cadena Ser, in case you find it interesting:

Alberto de Rosa, Opinión

Por una colaboración sincera

16 abril, 2020 • By

Llevamos más de un mes en Estado de Alarma por la crisis sanitaria del COVID19 que ha obligado a confinar a la mayor parte de la población y, como consecuencia, a parar casi toda la actividad económica. Esta decisión, absolutamente necesaria para ayudar a frenar esta crisis de Salud Pública, tuvo que tomarse de manera muy drástica, en parte porque se tardó en poner en marcha y en parte porque hubo muchas reticencias iniciales al necesario distanciamiento social, tal y como apunté en mi entrada al blog del 11 de marzo. Y la consecuencia es que ahora esta situación puede prolongarse mucho en el tiempo y tendrá graves efectos secundarios en la economía y en la sociedad.

Ya comenté en el artículo de la semana pasada que es el momento de poner las luces largas y prepararnos para afrontar una nueva realidad. Que de nosotros depende superar las consecuencias de esta crisis antes o después y que es necesario poner a un lado lo que nos separa y centrarnos en aquello que nos une. Pues bien. Aunque no parece que nuestros líderes políticos tengan del todo claro el itinerario a seguir, e incluso se contradigan en discursos y acciones y eso suponga que vayan al ralentí en la toma de decisiones, quiero resaltar de un modo muy positivo cómo el Presidente valenciano, Ximo Puig, está manteniendo videoconferencias con líderes empresariales y en un “ejercicio de realismo” sobre la situación generada por el COVID19, ha reconocido públicamente que sin la iniciativa privada, la recuperación es inviable. Del todo imposible. Me alegra mucho oír esto porque desde la primera entrada en este blog he destacado que la colaboración público privada es necesaria en todo momento, a pesar de los ataques de los populistas de siempre.

Pero ahora los gobiernos van a tener que enfrentarse a una cruda realidad: más de tres millones de personas afectadas por ERTEs a día de hoy, centenares de miles de pequeñas empresas que van a desaparecer, decenas de miles de familias que se han quedado sin ingresos de la noche a la mañana y unas arcas públicas que, si antes de esta crisis ya estaban fuertemente endeudadas, ahora van a tener que enfrentarse a una situación nunca antes conocida. “Tenéis todo mi respaldo (…) y dentro de mis competencias, vamos a apoyaros en los proyectos en marcha para superar esta situación”, aseguró Puig a los empresarios. Es una alegría que escuchemos al presidente de la Generalitat Valenciana diciendo esto. Y en mi caso, como responsable de Ribera Salud, la empresa que más ha trabajado de la mano de la Administración, nos sentimos totalmente respaldados por estas declaraciones. 

Ahora hay que pasar de las palabras a los hechos. Las buenas intenciones no bastan en una situación de emergencia nacional como la que vivimos. Todos, instituciones públicas e iniciativa privada, debemos trabajar juntos más que nunca. En realidad, esa ha sido siempre la voluntad de Ribera Salud. Forma parte de nuestro ADN. Esa voluntad de servir a nuestra comunidad, buscar siempre el interés general y garantizar la mejor atención sanitaria fue la base del nacimiento de Ribera Salud y de la puesta en marcha del primer hospital de España basado en un modelo único de colaboración público privado, el Hospital de La Ribera. 

Por cierto, pasados dos años de la finalización de esta colaboración, se ha puesto en evidencia que la reversión del Hospital de Alzira ha sido un desastre. Ya lo comentaremos en profundidad en otro post. Pero está claro: Toda realidad que se ignora busca su venganza.

Y volviendo a la colaboración público privada que ha puesto en valor el presidente Puig, desde Ribera Salud no solo hemos defendido siempre este modelo sino también la transparencia y evaluación periódica de los resultados asistenciales y la calidad en la atención. Y se da la circunstancia de que la Sindicatura de Cuentas de la Generalitat Valenciana ha puesto siempre en valor la fortaleza y las ventajas de esa colaboración. El último informe al respecto se ha centrado en el Hospital Universitario de Torrevieja, y sus conclusiones no dejan lugar a dudas sobre sus ventajas. La lista de espera quirúrgica en Torrevieja es cuatro veces menor que la media de hospitales de la Comunidad Valenciana, su buena gestión supone un ahorro de 45 millones al año al gasto público, el 85% de sus pacientes están muy satisfechos con la atención que reciben y la iniciativa privada ha invertido 105 millones de euros hasta la fecha en este departamento de salud.

Además, ahora hay que añadir que es uno de los hospitales que ha liderado la defensa social frente al COVID19 y ha demostrado la fortaleza del sistema público, contribuyendo con una labor eficaz a la recuperación de muchos pacientes mientras daba seguridad a sus profesionales -no en vano, es uno de los hospitales de España con menos casos de profesionales infectados-. Así que sí. También el Hospital de Torrevieja ha demostrado el beneficio que reporta esta colaboración público privada a la sociedad en un momento de emergencia sanitaria como el actual.

Confío en que las palabras del presidente no se las lleve el viento y se conviertan en acciones reales. Y desde este blog, tiendo de nuevo la mano a nuestros dirigentes para seguir trabajando por una Sanidad excelente, donde el sistema público, en el que incluyo la gestión directa y la colaboración privada, sea cada vez más fuerte, buscando la suma de recursos. Desde el compromiso, la responsabilidad y la seriedad en la toma de decisiones, juntos seremos capaces de hacer frente a los retos que nos plantea el siglo XXI y a dificultades como las que estamos viviendo.

Alberto de Rosa, Opinión

Construyamos desde la unidad

7 abril, 2020 • By

Cuando hace poco más de tres meses celebrábamos el comienzo de una nueva década, nadie podía imaginar que la primera pandemia del siglo XXI estaba llamando a la puerta. Era un momento en el que todos nos deseábamos salud y felicidad para el año próximo. Salud, qué hermosa palabra. Hoy luchamos contra un enemigo invisible pero duro, muy duro. Las decenas de miles de personas fallecidas lo demuestran. 

Nuestra sociedad ha sabido una vez más estar a la altura de las circunstancias. Creo que tanto en España como en nuestra Comunidad los ciudadanos hemos mostrado nuestra mejor versión. La responsabilidad, la unidad, la generosidad, la solidaridad y el espíritu de sacrificio de todos en estos días de lucha y confinamiento supera con mucho a lo que podíamos imaginar hace solo un mes. 

Como responsable de un grupo sanitario, Ribera Salud, he tenido la oportunidad de estar en la primera línea de defensa de nuestra sociedad. Mi privilegio es liderar un extraordinario equipo de profesionales (médicos/as, enfermeros/as, auxiliares, técnicos/as, administrativos/as, celadores/as, personal de mantenimiento, personal de limpieza…) que tanto en Galicia, Madrid, Extremadura y la Comunidad Valenciana han dado ejemplo de lo que es esta extraordinaria profesión vocacional con entrega, pasión, profesionalidad y eficacia. Han demostrado, una vez más, que somos una organización de personas que cuidan a personas. Y permitan que exprese mi profundo orgullo y reconocimiento a todos ellos. 

María José, personal de limpieza de uno de nuestros centros, aseguraba el otro día que trabaja “más y mejor que nunca, porque éste también es mi hospital y quiero ayudar a que esta situación termine”. Y Cuca, administrativa del Hospital de día de pacientes oncológicos, nos contaba que no ha querido cogerse días libres porque “aquí somos una gran familia y en estos momentos nuestros pacientes nos necesitan”. Ángel, médico de Urgencias decía sentirse reconocido por los ciudadanos pues, “ellos no distinguen a los profesionales por el tipo de hospital en el que trabajan, a pesar del empeño de algunos políticos”. Ellos dicen que no son personas especiales, pero sus valores son un ejemplo para todos. Ahí lo dejo.

También quiero agradecer las abrumadoras muestras de solidaridad de personas, colectivos y empresas que están contribuyendo con sus donaciones y sus muestras de apoyo. Y, por supuesto, poner en valor el trabajo de los cuerpos y fuerzas de seguridad del Estado por su impresionante vocación de servicio público, sea cual sea la tarea que se les encomiende. Además, intentamos estar cerca de las instituciones, autonómicas y locales, para mantenerles al día de la evolución de la crisis. Porque la información y la transparencia son clave en un trabajo en equipo.

Ahora es el momento de empezar a poner las luces largas y prepararnos para afrontar una nueva realidad. Las heridas de esta pandemia en los servicios públicos, los hábitos sociales y la economía van a ser profundas. Y otra vez de nosotros depende que las superemos antes o después. Es necesario acabar con debates divisorios y fomentar los muchos puntos que nos unen. Se ha demostrado que esta pandemia no entiende de fronteras, de clases sociales ni de ideologías políticas. Y cuestionar la globalización y apostar por localismos arcaicos se ha demostrado erróneo porque otra de las enseñanzas de este virus es que la respuesta en la lucha debe ser global.

Es tentador ofrecer respuestas populistas y simples a escenarios complejos, pero sería una total equivocación. En Sanidad oigo mensajes de enfrentamiento de lo público o lo privado cuando sin la colaboración público-privada, la respuesta a la crisis hubiera sido una total hecatombe. Simplemente imposible. 

En la Economía escucho críticas a personalidades como Amancio Ortega o Juan Roig cuando están mostrando que son un ejemplo de compromiso y generosidad que les convierte en verdaderos referentes sociales. Mientras, en política, los diferentes líderes toman decisiones en función de lo que creen que va a mejorar su posición en el corto plazo. 

Y esta crisis no va de eso. Va de cambiar nuestras prioridades y valores sociales. De buscar consensos y acuerdos, de sumar. De generosidad, de escuchar, de agradecer. En definitiva, de ser más humildes. Nuestros líderes políticos tienen la oportunidad de afrontar este reto desde la grandeza y la visión de Estado. No sé si lo harán. Pero yo les pediría que cuando tomen sus decisiones tengan en la cabeza a los ancianos que han fallecido en las residencias porque no se les ha dado la prioridad asistencial que merecían. O el altísimo número de profesionales contagiados por no haberles provisto de suficiente material de protección. Unos profesionales que, aún con miedo, iban todos los días al hospital a luchar por todos nosotros. En este punto quiero agradecer al equipo de la central de compras de Ribera Salud su entrega y eficacia para evitar la extensión de los contagios entre nuestros profesionales. 

Ojalá todos los responsables de sacar adelante nuestra Nación estén a la altura de lo demostrado por todos los ciudadanos. 

(Este artículo fue publicado por el diario Levante-EMV el 7 de abril de 2020, Día Mundial de la Salud)


Generosity and a call to service: committed young people

31 marzo, 2020 • By

All the professionals at Ribera Salud Group are doing their best during this crisis caused by the COVID19 global pandemic. We’re an organisation of people who serve people, and over these past few weeks our staff has proved that it always takes the extra step to ensure the best possible care for those who need it. Words like involvement, calling, commitment, dedication, and determination fall short when it comes to describing the excellent work the team is doing. From physicians, nurses, assistants, technicians, and caretakers to admission, systems, administration, and cleaning personnel, there are always volunteers to cover shifts, help colleagues, keep our centres running at full capacity and, furthermore, to collaborate with the different initiatives we’ve implemented to make our patients’ stay as humane as possible, helping them feel as supported as possible in the solitude of isolation that this virus imposes.

So, in addition to the pride I feel in representing such a committed and passionate team of professionals, today I want to highlight the involvement, courage and solidarity of a group of nine students from the Nursing School at Povisa Hospital in Vigo, who have volunteered to work for the next two months as senior technicians in the country’s hotspot: the Community of Madrid. Despite being in their final year of school, this co-ed group (8 women and 1 man) wants to switch their focus to helping others and put everything they learned at the service of a society that needs them. Not only that, they face this challenge with enthusiasm, even with a sense of happiness for the opportunity to lend a helping hand. 

I’ve always been convinced that Spanish youth is much more than some would like to convey. And, without a doubt, this group of nursing students from Povisa are an example not only for other young people, but for society as a whole. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation for the enthusiasm with which you all have offered to work on the front line during such difficult and complex times. Because your decision is one of sacrifice and effort. Most are leaving Vigo (one is leaving the Canary Islands, where she lives, although she is completing her studies at Povisa) for Madrid, leaving their families and the comfort of their homes to work in a region that is suffering greatly from the harshest consequences of this global health crisis.

When Ribera Salud acquired Povisa, we knew that we were adding an iconic health project to the Group, a team of highly implicated and magnificent professionals, which also has an enormous asset: its Nursing School. We believed that this training centre was a value that should be preserved and promoted. And this group of student volunteers unquestionably proves that we were right.

The decision these young people have made to go to Madrid to work in the heart of the fight against the pandemic is news that has truly touched me. Because they represent, even before graduating, one of Ribera Salud’s core values: commitment. Because our organisation is committed to the professionals of today and tomorrow, to the health of our patients, to humane treatment, to closeness and involvement with the people we serve, to technology and to the quality of care we offer. And these young people represent the humanistic spirit, the vocation for service and the value of the commitment that Ribera Salud defends and conveys internally and with our patients. 

Not only that, but their sacrifice has special merit because they have taken the extra step in one of the most difficult moments in the recent history of our Healthcare system. And this is something that must be applauded, both as a health professional and as a citizen.

As I conclude, it’s worth mentioning that one of the lessons we are undoubtedly learning from this crisis is that the pride we feel for our Healthcare is not intangible, nor a generic name. Our Healthcare wouldn’t exist without the professionals who work for the Spanish healthcare system. Yes. We have the best healthcare professionals in the world. And the students from Povisa prove that this vocation for service lives on. That’s why we applaud our healthcare professionals every day. They’re our most precious and cherished asset.


The value of the local sphere

23 marzo, 2020 • By

It’s been one week since the government announced a state of alarm, and citizens and organisations are still struggling to adapt to these exceptional circumstances. We are all writing a line in the Story of managing this global pandemic, the first of the 21st century.

Every citizen plays their part in this situation: health professionals, pharmacists and researchers on front lines in the battle against the coronavirus; workers in basic services such as cleaning, transport, food and the security forces who help make sure that life doesn’t come to a complete halt. And our governments, each in their own area. The Central Government is trying to unify policies, collect daily information on the number of cases and give instructions and recommendations of a general nature, while regional governments, responsible for healthcare management in each territory, feed this chain of information, apply criteria coming from above and take the necessary decisions, transmitting them to the various healthcare management bodies.

I have no doubt that we’re all working along the same lines, towards maximum collaboration between institutions, with the belief that we will all win this battle together.

However, I believe that there is one player fundamental to this crisis, because of its importance as an agent of the health system and its closeness to citizens. I’m talking about city and town councils. In situations like this, the importance of municipal social services and their contact with the elderly and the most vulnerable groups at risk of exclusion, or the local police, essential to guaranteeing social isolation, is a reality that we should value at a time of maximum social tension, due to the circumstances we are facing and those that are still to come. 

And let’s not just think about the councils in big cities. The smaller the population, the more important the role of the local government due to its direct contact with citizens; they turn to it to raise doubts and concerns, and request services. These smaller municipalities often don’t have the possibility of using teleworking, which is why these public servants are also heroes during the crisis. 

At Ribera Salud we have always thought that one of our main missions as those responsible for our citizens’ healthcare is to work hand in hand with the community we serve. And to do so, there is no better formula than being fully integrated into the life of said community. We mutually support each other.

Regarding this, I am very proud as, right at the start of this health crisis, we launched an initiative to improve direct communication with local councils and to intensify coordination among all personnel. The heads of health departments managed by Ribera Salud have already held their first meetings with the mayors of all the municipalities in their areas via video conferencing. Councils as diverse as Torrevieja, Pilar de la Horadada, Orihuela, Elche, Aspe, Crevillente, Torrejón, Daganzo, and Ajalvir, among others, have participated in these coordination calls. And I would like to thank all the participating mayors for their commitment, enthusiasm and collaboration, as well as the enormous support they’ve given us over these past few days.

In these meetings, I can see four principles that I consider fundamental to healthcare management in the 21st century:

Communication between all the institutions, with the objective of always having an open channel for a quick response to an occurrence.

Transparency in explaining why decisions were made and receiving any suggestions that could help us improve and adapt to a constantly changing scenario.

Proximity, as local administrations and health departments have a higher degree of contact with citizens and are a very good source for attending to doubts and transmitting suggestions.

Coordination, because I think it is highly important that local police know the strategies of hospitals or how primary care is working first-hand, and that social services know they can receive training and information to do their job with maximum safety guarantees.

We’re all one. Each of Spain’s 8,131 city and town councils aims to work towards the general interest. For Ribera Salud, the importance of being integrated into the community where we serve goes beyond words. With these meetings we demonstrate the value of the local sphere in the global strategies of any institution or organisation through a very concrete action. Every link in the chain is important and we will continue to work along these lines. Now and forever.