Corona consequences: parent-child health clinics fear for survival

The last two years have been tough for Anne. The 33-year-old mother of two daughters has experienced all manifestations and side effects of the corona pandemic: severe corona episodes in the family, multiple quarantines, homeschooling for her then 8-year-old daughter, no day care for her 6-year-old, then emergency care. Add to that his own job, a new job for her husband and an ADHD diagnosis for her older daughter. Everything was different than usual, the pressure kept rising.

The stress left its mark on Anne. She quickly lost patience. She became loud, she says. The 33-year-old is now hoping for help from a stay at a mother-child clinic in Scheidegg in the Allgäu. Your children should no longer have their mood, no longer be their “buffer”.

Clinics fear survival

Anne’s story is similar to the story of many others who are currently in a parent-child clinic. The treatment is prescribed by the family doctor and paid for by the health insurance.

Exhausted mothers and fathers receive holistic care in the specialized parent-child facilities. A program consisting of sports, psychological counseling, physiotherapy and relaxation exercises should strengthen them for everyday life again within 3 weeks. In the meantime, the children are being cared for professionally. But it is precisely these institutions that in many places are afraid to survive.

The main cause of imbalance: Corona

If Thomas Schmoltner, CEO of the Prinzregent-Luitpold Specialist Clinic in Scheidegg in the Allgäu, has his will, the corona pandemic and the corresponding conditions are responsible for this. Despite the corona-related aid payments from the federal government and health insurance companies, clinics like the one in Scheidegg are running at a loss.

Schmoltner estimates that his house alone in the period from January to the end of April had a deficit of about 450,000 euros. In another clinic in the Allgäu, which he manages, the deficit amounts to 600,000 euros in the same period.

The reason is, for example, arrivals canceled at short notice or early departures due to corona infections or positive test results. In such cases, beds can not be quickly relocated. At the same time, more staff will be deployed to meet the hygiene requirements.

Challenge non-profit

In this context, the non-profit status of many parent-child clinics poses a particular challenge: They must finance themselves, but they must not make money. With a daily rate of around 80 to 90 euros per. person, as they are paid on average by the health insurance companies, the clinics have to cover all their costs. The families must contribute an additional 10 euros per. parent and day of own pocket.

In order for the calculation to work out, the utilization of the facilities must be 90 to 95 percent, the German mother’s convalescence agency informs. 73 clinics are organized in the fund, including the Prinzregent Luitpold Clinic in Scheidegg. The lower capacity utilization, as is currently the case during the pandemic, and the currently exploding energy and food prices are tearing economic gaps.

Demand increased by 50 percent

Yvonne Bovermann, CEO of the mothers’ convalescence work, therefore fears that there will be closures. The mood is tense, especially in smaller houses. The mothers’ awakening organization estimates that the demand for places has increased by about 50 percent compared to the years before the pandemic. Parents now have to wait almost a year for a place in a spa clinic.

In this situation, it is a thorn in the side of the mother-child clinics that the federal government and health insurance companies are no longer planning Corona assistance, which is flowing to all preventive and rehabilitation facilities. The last extension of Corona aid, in mid-March, was to apply for 6 months. Thereafter, it was limited to 3 months until the end of June. The company’s health insurance companies had stated in a statement against a longer term. It states that today there is virtually “normal operation” in preventive and rehabilitation facilities and in hospitals.

Clinics need to help themselves

Meanwhile, neither the federal government nor the health insurance companies are compensating for the loss of parent-child facilities. Airlines use donations or their own assets for this purpose. This is the unanimous report of the directors of various institutions throughout Germany in discussions with the BR.

The new law on strengthening intensive care and rehabilitation can remedy the situation. It has been in force since November 2021. Among other things, the daily rates for a parent-child cure must be based to a greater extent on the services provided. However, health insurance companies, politicians and clinics can not at present agree on how much money to pay for what.

A report commissioned by the Federal Association of Private Clinics, which is close to parent-child clinics, concludes that today’s daily rates are too low. Instead of 80 euros, they should be around 105 euros a day to counteract “chronic underfunding”. However, the calculations are from 2018 – from a time before the corona pandemic and the current inflation wave.

Worldwide unique system

If science has its way, it is important to save the facilities. Claudia Kirsch, who heads the “Family Health” research network at Hannover Medical School and has studied the effects of parent-child cures for years, stresses the importance of the offer:

If the health clinics did not exist, the symptoms that families and children have just begun to suffer from would be more pronounced, she says. “Ultimately, it would cost the health care system more than it does right now.”

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