Not many people enjoy being in a hospital environment, and quite often an environment that does not remind a patient of a hospital leads to a faster recovery. In september 2014, the Clinic Bad Ragaz, which is located in the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, started to offer new rehabilitation facilities and treatments: the Clinic has everything you need for your recovery from surgery or injury as fast as possible.
Patients can enjoy the environment of a five-star hotel while receiving the highest quality medical treatment. Clemens Sieber, the Chief of Medicine and leader of the highly qualified medical team at the Clinic Bad Ragaz, shares his experiences in bringing people back to an active lifestyle.
– Doctor Sieber, what is your Clinic’s specialization?
– We offer a wide range of rehabilitation services: we help our patients to regain the ability to move on their own and to do so with confidence. At the same time, we work hard to create the most comfortable of environments. In other words, we are not talking only about the regeneration of locomotive system functions, but also about individual rehabilitation treatments tailored to each patients needs. Our patients always enjoy deluxe service. During the whole rehabilitation process, our doctors, nurses and room service employees look after the patients and take care of their requests for medical and hotel services. Our approach is generally different from the usual «wake up, go to bed» regime.
– How do you manage to do that?
– There are many clinics offering excellent rehabilitation treatments but they usually take place in what are almost army-cadet conditions, as they are aimed at large number of patients and therefore they are not able to offer individual services. They have all their activities scheduled to the minute. For example, if you want to take a nap after lunch, you will not have a chance because you already have medical procedures scheduled for this time. If a medical center has 100–150 patients at a time, the patients’ stay is usually planned meticulously from the first to the last day and it is always easier to eliminate a procedure than to add a new one to the patients’ treatment plan.
However, we always remember that our patient is a person with his own routine and if he wants to take a nap after lunch, he is free to do so. This is what the individual approach is all about – if a patient wants to have an extra massage session, we will adapt our schedule accordingly. Most of the time this kind of thing can be easily arranged – this is the advantage of being a small clinic.
– In other words, an individual approach is the core principle of your work, isn’t it?
– Yes it is. From the very first day of the Clinic being founded, we have been aiming towards offering an individual approach to our patients, and we have managed to achieve much of what we set out to do. If we talk of planning, we always have room for improvement. For instance, if a patient wants to have his therapist replaced with another one, we can arrange this no matter how difficult it might be. Imagine this situation: a person has already spent three weeks in the Clinic. Suddenly his rehabilitation treatment is extended but under the supervision of another doctor, because his initial therapist had his working hours scheduled for the whole of the next week. Well, our patients are used to high-quality service. They may not understand the reasons for such a replacement, and some of them may even refuse to take further treatment.
We have to be mindful of these small things when we prepare individual rehabilitation programs. At the same time, however, our highest priority is to offer better services to our patients as compared to other clinics.
As our Clinic was opened as part of the existing Medical Health Center, we did not have to create anything in terms of medical services. A great professional team has already been built over the previous few decades. I believe we would have never managed to achieve what we did if we had had to recruit medical personnel and doctors from scratch again.
– What other advantages do you have? The Clinic’s equipment or some special medical services, for example?
– First of all, we use our 36.5 °C body-warmth thermal water as a natural piece of equipment. Besides this, we have regular equipment as used in rehabilitation centers at our disposal. What we can talk about a lot is the thermal water that we actively use in the rehabilitation of our patients. Depending on the therapy, the list of our medical services is very extensive; we successfully cover nearly every branch of medicine. We have, for example, an outpatient unit, a radiology department, about 50 therapists, dermatologists, gynecologists, angiologists, pneumologists, sports medicines, ophtalmologists, nutritionists. we offer a wide range ofmedical disciplines.
– Do you offer rehabilitation services to cancer patients?
– Yes, we have this kind of program. The rehabilitation of cancer patients is not very different from the therapeutic method, though it takes more time. The main point is that they are extremely weak and get tired easily. Surgeries, radiotherapy and chemotherapy have exhausted them, and they need not only relaxation and recovery, but also psychological support. This kind of patient quite often doubts the possibility of a successful outcome to the treatment. They need rest and moral support. We are able to provide the most comfortable conditions for rehabilitation and to offer professional medical care to them.
– The Clinic is located within the territory of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, and patients may choose to stay in the Clinic or in the hotel. Whom would you advise to stay in the Clinic in particular?
– If a patient requires special care, it can be provided in the Clinic. We are talking about those who struggle to take care of themselves in everyday life. This includes, for example, those who cannot use toilet facilities on their own due to a prosthesis or who cannot walk steadily after surgery, as well as those who require pain injections, etc.
If a person is able to take care of himself or he is accompanied by his family members during the treatment, he may take his treatment in the Clinic first and then move to the hotel, where rehabilitation services and medical care personnel can be provided 24 hours a day. Sometimes we transfer patients who have learnt to take care of themselves during their stay in our Clinic to the hotel. This, however, does not mean that they still need further treatment.
Most patients come to stay in our Clinic after surgery. Some years ago, patients who had had hip replacement surgery needed to stay in hospital for ten days. Nowadays they need to stay in hospital for between two to five days only, and can be admitted to a rehabilitation clinic immediately afterwards. Many patients prefer not to go back home, but rather to stay in our Clinic, especially those of foreign nationalities, who would need to take a flight to get home. This may be risky immediately after surgery. For this reason, they are advised to take 10–14 days of rehabilitation treatment before flying.
By the way, patients from other countries prefer to stay for longer periods, because they like the quality of service provided by us. They may then decide to live not in the Clinic but in the hotel. This may, however, result in a different cost structure, as the Clinic is obligated to pay medical taxes.
– Being a doctor, what do you think is the most important thing?
– To me it is important to be in contact with the doctors who send patients to our Clinic. For example, a patient takes rehabilitation treatment after his surgery but one week later I have questions and doubts, and I would really appreciate the opportunity to call his surgeon and discuss everything that concerns me. At the very least, I need the opportunity to read a professional medical report from the hospital where this patients surgery was carried out. All medical documents need to be written in a language I understand, but not all foreign doctors can provide these documents in, for instance, English. This is why it may be easier to deal with foreign patients sent to us from Swiss clinics.
– You mentioned that many patients stay for longer periods because they like the services provided. In which cases, however, would you recommend a long-term stay in the Clinic?
– It depends on the patients age, his current situation and his ailments. A lengthy rehabilitation is required in case of spinal diseases, multiple injuries and fractures or for elderly patients. We have 80- and 90-year-old patients coming to our Clinic, and they certainly need more time for rehabilitation.
One’s psychological condition is also very important: if a young person had surgery and the surgery went well, this person will recover very fast. However, if there were certain complications, or the patient is an elderly person or prone to depression, the rehabilitation takes longer. Inner strength plays an essential role, because rehabilitation is about self-improvement. Our task is to encourage the patient.
– You said that the success of your Clinic depends on the teamwork of your professional personnel. What is the essence of this teamwork? How do you organize the work processes of your personnel?
– We focus on the well-being of a patient. Absolutely everyone – from doctors to room maids – has to be involved in the teamwork. We know how to interact with each other and with the patients.
Our Clinic is a success story – a person comes to us in a wheelchair and leaves us walking on crutches, or a person comes to us on crutches and leaves us walking on his own feet… These success stories encourage both doctors and patients. We maintain our positive attitude, especially towards those who are pessimists. It is extremely important to make sure that my words and the words of the attending doctor encourage people. My 15 years of experience confirm that it is our interaction and interdisciplinary teamwork that make us successful.
Clemens Sieber MD
member of the Swiss Medical Association, chief medical officer of the Clinic Bad Ragaz.
In 1988 he graduated from the University of Basel and defended his thesis.
In 1990 he started practicing internal medicine (disorders of the inner organs) at the University of Flawil, and later he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1991–1992 he worked as a surgeon at the St Leonhard Centre, St Gallen, and then at the Rorschach Hospital. He went back to practicing internal medicine, first at the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital and then at Zurich University Hospital and Chur Regional Hospital. Since the year 2000 he has been working in the therapy department of the Medical Health Center Bad Ragaz.