|The UMCG is the only university medical center in the northern part of the Netherlands, and therefore the final point of referral for many patients.
Patients go to the UMCG for basic care as well as highly specialist top clinical and top reference care, such as organ transplants, complex neuro-surgery, neonatology, clinical genetics, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), pediatric oncology, renal dialysis and traumatology. All medical specialties are represented, as well as education programs for all medical disciplines. The final assessment of the specific disorder a patient is suffering from, is usually a matter of research. Especially when that disorder is rare, hard to diagnose and difficult to treat. The eight Dutch university medical centers, like the UMCG, have been appointed to render this top reference care. However, not every disease can be cured. That is why the UMCG devotes much attention to chronic diseases, pain relief, and palliative care. How to live with limitations - whether due to illness or disability - has to be learnt. After an illness or accident, rehabilitation is often necessary. The UMCG also provides this service. Research and development are combined with many years of practical experience in the Center for Rehabilitation.
City inside a city
The more than 8500 employees and 1300 beds make the UMCG one of the largest hospitals in The Netherlands. It is sometimes called ‘a city inside a city’, because of the architecture, with covered streets that lead to the nursing units and outpatients clinics. Moreover, thousands of employees provide numerous services to even a greater number of patients and visitors. Each year, many symposia are organized in the hospital, with participants from abroad. There are shops, a branch of one of the national banks, gardens, as well as lunchrooms, in order to make patients less aware that they are in a hospital. This philosophy has led to a hospital that is unique in Europe.
Developments in patient care
The UMCG’s philosophy with regard to patient care extends beyond the hospital’s walls. The various aspects of care should be finely tuned to one another, and the UMCG takes this responsibility seriously. The UMCG cooperates closely with various care institutions and nursing homes. The rehabilitation center Beatrixoord and the emergency transportation company RAV merged with the UMCG. Another indispensable part of this complex organization is the cooperation with general practitioners (GP’s) in the region. The UMCG also pays much attention to projects concerning care beyond its institutions, and has a surgical day-care unit at its disposal. This unit enables patients to check in, get operated upon and go home, all in one day. Care for the elderly, geriatrics, is becoming increasingly important. There are various so-called ‘living room projects’ for the elderly. Also an intermediate care unit has been set up for patients over 75, in cooperation with the nursing home Neerwolde. The unit is really a kind of half-way house between hospital and home, and reduces waiting lists for beds for those who need to be admitted for a longer period of time.
Patients determine quality
The UMCG is working in various ways to improve its quality of care and service. Each department makes a clear assessment of the level of its care and service, so as to be able to recognize possible areas for improvement and to take the proper measures. In this, the opinion of the patients is paramount. They have experienced care at the hospital, and are likely to have ideas for improvements. They are a vital source of information. To tap from this source, the UMCG has developed the Patient Interview. This is a survey of the experiences of patients in the UMCG. The experiences and opinions of patients are collected and categorized in their homes, so that a detailed feedback can be gained concerning the quality of the care given. The survey is undertaken by each department, and (former) patients are interviewed by way of questionnaires. The departments can benefit and learn from these experiences.
Patient-friendly surgery hours
Many patients with complex disorders which involve a number of specialties, visit the UMCG. The UMCG tries to arrange the treatment of these patients in a swift and patient-friendly manner. To this end, the UMCG has set up multi-disciplinary teams which include all necessary disciplines involved in a disorder. An example of this is the multi-disciplinary team for patients with the serious disease Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). These patients rely on dermatologists, plastic surgeons, pediatricians, nurses, speech therapists as well as social workers for their treatment. Patients no longer have to make separate appointments with all these consultants at the UMCG. They can simply go to the EB surgery hours, and the various consultants will visit them. There are over thirty multi-disciplinary surgery hours at the UMCG. Examples of these are teams for hemophilia, rheuma, spina bifida, spasticity, diabetes and hereditary heart-rhythm disorders.
The UMCG is one of the very few hospitals worldwide that perform all organ transplants. This does not only concern kidney, heart, lung, liver, and small bowel transplants, but also combined organ transplants, such as heart-lung, lung-liver, and liver-kidney transplants. The UMCG annually performs over 150 organ transplants. Apart from organ transplants, also skin, thin bowel, heart valve, cornea, bone and bone marrow transplants are carried out.
The UMCG is one of ten recognized trauma centers in The Netherlands. It has all the necessary specialties and facilities at its disposal to immediately treat patients from serious traffic accidents, work-related accidents or violent crimes. In addition, the UMCG has its own trauma helicopter. The UMCG's catchment area covers one-third of The Netherlands. Moreover, many locations are remote and difficult to reach. Therefore, a helicopter is indispensable in getting the specialized medical team, the Mobile Medical Team (MMT), quickly to the scene of an accident. The MMT consists of consultants who can anaesthetize patients on the spot, and are capable of performing small surgical procedures. The trauma helicopter is especially equipped for accident victims. For them, quick, high-quality treatment is crucial.
The UMCG architectures sets it apart from other hospitals. The influence of the patient has played a decisive part in this. The UMCG is designed to embody the reliability of a bank and the kindness of a community center. Construction began in 1983 and is still ongoing. Architects and builders succeeded one another, and each of the outpatients’ clinics was designed by a different interior decorator. Each outpatient’s clinic has its own image and unique identity. The building itself does not dominate or overwhelm, but instead empowers the patients who visit it and the people who work there. This makes the UMCG one of the finest state-of-the-art hospitals of Europe.
The UMCG is one of the largest employers in Groningen and a steadily expanding organization. Each year the number of employees increases by 150. These employees are necessary in order to maintain the status of university medical center. The UMCG’s economic effect extends far beyond the hospital itself. Consider not only the number of suppliers providing all kinds of products to the UMCG, but also that the construction of the new building required 8000 man years (and an investment of half a million euros) since 1983. The construction of the Facilities Building which is almost completed has required 600 man years of work. The UMCG generates more and more (bio) medical technological knowledge. Biomedical technology has been a powerful growth sector for years, generating high-quality business and employment. Sixteen fledgling companies in the biomedical and medical-technological field have already been established in the UMCG grounds. This number can only increase in future.