Monday, February 13, 2012

Locating a Hospital

An article in a professional periodical did stress that all new hospitals in the country were located in a wrong place. However, with one unique exception in the Utrecht area. A miracle. 
How did this miracle come about? Actually, very down to earth. The Hospital Board sought the advice of the Planning Institute, and do an investigation on the relocation of the old renowned hospital. The city location it was in, offered no room to expand. When I was asked to do the research, my main issue was - where do the patients and their visitors come from. I was enabled to lead a group of medical students, that visited the patients, and filled-in my questionnaire. The important role of the hospital presented itself clearly. It turned out, that about one third of the patients (and their visitors) originated from the city of Utrecht, about one third from the surroundings of Utrecht, and about one third from over the Netherlands. 
As a result I wanted to secure, that the hospital could be easily approached by public transport, as well as by individual means. All modes had turned out to be essential. A proper location in the, then expanding, fringe of the town of Utrecht was proposed. It fulfilled all criteria. The proposal was adopted carefully, and the hospital grew in name and fame until this very day.
At a later stage, I wanted to do some research with my students (as part of their curriculum) on the planned relocation of the University Hospital. That was refused, so the students had to fill in their questionnaire outside the gate. One main result coming out of the investigation was the lack of rail transport at the new location. 
I proposed a rail connection from the Utrecht main station. At the same time proposing it as a transfer and check-in point to Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport. The latter, because of its location, not only at the eastern fringe of Utrecht, but also of the Randstad as a whole. Recently, a newspaper reported such a rail line to be implemented, although the wider Randstad scope is apparently lacking. One cannot have them all.