Corona’s consequences: Parent and child health clinics fear survival

The past two years have been difficult for Anne. The 33-year-old mother of two daughters has been exposed to all the manifestations and side effects of the coronavirus pandemic: acute coronavirus cycles in the family, multiple quarantines, homeschooling for her 8-year-old daughter, no daycare for her 6-year-old, then emergency care. Add to that her own job, a new job for her husband and an ADHD diagnosis for her eldest daughter. Everything was different from usual, and the pressure continued to increase.

The pressure left its mark on Anne. She soon lost her patience. She said it was noisy. The 33-year-old hopes to get help from her stay at the Mother and Child Clinic in Schedeg in Allgäu. Your kids shouldn’t feel their mood anymore, and they shouldn’t be a “buffer zone”.

Clinics are afraid of survival

Anne’s story sounds similar to that of several others currently in the parent-child clinic. Treatment is determined by the family doctor and paid for by health insurance companies.

Exhausted parents receive comprehensive care in specialized parent-child facilities. A program consisting of sports, psychological counseling, physical therapy and relaxation exercises should strengthen her for daily living again within 3 weeks. In the meantime, the children are taken care of professionally. But it is precisely these institutions that are afraid to stay in many places.

The main cause of imbalance: Corona

If Thomas Schmoltner, managing director of the Prinzregent-Luitpold specialist clinic in Scheidegg in Allgäu, is doing well, the corona pandemic and corresponding conditions are to blame. Despite corona-related aid payments from the federal government and health insurance companies, clinics like the one in Scheidegg are making losses.

According to Schlotner, his house ran a shortfall of around 450,000 euros from January to the end of April alone. At another clinic in Allgäu he runs, the shortfall was €600,000 in the same period.

The reason is, for example, cancellation of arrivals at short notice or early departure due to corona infection or positive test results. In such cases, the beds cannot be quickly reallocated. At the same time, more staff will be deployed to meet hygiene requirements.

Challenge Non-Profit Organizations

In this context, the non-profit status of many parent and child clinics presents a particular challenge: they have to finance themselves, but they are not allowed to make a profit. At a daily rate of 80-90 euros per person, paid by health insurance companies on average, clinics have to cover all their costs. Families have to contribute an additional €10 per parent and a day out of their own pocket.

In order to carry out the calculation, use of the facilities must be 90 to 95 percent, according to Germany’s Conservation Agency for Mothers. 73 clinics are organized at the institution, including the Prinzregent Luitpold Clinic in Scheidegg. Low capacity utilization, as is currently the case during a pandemic, and currently massive explosions in energy and food prices are creating fiscal gaps.

Demand increased by 50 percent

So Yvonne Boverman, director of the Convalescent Department for Mothers, fears closures. The mood is tense, especially in small homes. Mothers Recovery estimates that demand for places has increased by about 50 percent compared to the years before the pandemic. Parents now have to wait about a year for a place at a spa clinic.

In this case, there is a thorn in the side of the mother and child clinics that the federal government and health insurers are not planning for the Corona aid payments that flow to all prevention and rehabilitation facilities in the long term. The last extension of Corona aid in mid-March should be applied for a period of 6 months. Then it was limited to 3 months until the end of June. The company’s health insurers spoke in a statement against it in the long run. He states that there are currently largely “normal operations” in prevention and rehabilitation facilities and in hospitals.

Clinics have to help themselves

Meanwhile, neither the federal government nor health insurance companies compensate for parent-child facilities losses. Carriers use donations or their own assets for this purpose. This is the unanimous report of managing directors from various institutions across Germany in discussions with the Radiocommunication Bureau.

The new Intensive Care and Rehabilitation Promotion Act could correct the situation. It has been in effect since November 2021. Among other things, the daily rates for parent-child treatment should be based more on the services provided. However, health insurers, politicians, and clinics cannot currently agree on how much money should be paid for what.

A report commissioned by the Federal Association of Private Clinics, which is close to parent-child clinics, came to the conclusion that daily prices today are very low. Instead of €80, it should be around €105 per day to counter the “chronic underfunding”. However, the accounts are from 2018 – from before the Corona pandemic and the current wave of inflation.

A globally unique system

If science has its way, it is important to save the utilities. Claudia Kirsch, who heads the Family Health Research Network at Hannover Medical School and has been studying the effects of parent-child treatments for years, stresses the importance of the show:

And if health clinics weren’t around, she adds, the symptoms that families and children were just starting to experience would be more noticeable. “Ultimately, it will cost the health care system more than it is doing now.”

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