Professor Andreas Meier-Hellmann has been the medical director of Helios since 2018 and heads the Corona crisis team there. With around 110,000 employees and 86 clinics in Germany alone, Helios is one of the largest private hospital operators in Europe. The total turnover last year was 9.2 billion euros.
ZEIT ONLINE: Mr
Meier-Hellmann, on a scale of one to ten, how panicked you are
You think about the threat of the corona pandemic?
Andreas Meier-Hellmann: Without flirting: As a private individual, too
as a doctor, I am completely panicked because it is already clear what has to happen.
70 percent of the population will deal with that virus have to grapple.
That sounds like a lot, but it's basically not a big drama: sober
viewed Corona is a germ that is highly unlikely
is more dramatic than a heavy flu bud. The difference is: he
is more contagious and also meets a country where no one is immune and
no one is vaccinated.
ZEIT ONLINE: But isn't the latter exactly the difference that justifies the many fears? In addition, the number of infected people is currently growing exponentially. If this continues and you assume that
up to 20 percent of those infected may need intensive care,
the health system is bound to reach its limits.
Meier-Hellmann: But the
Numbers are very different. We can assume that 90 percent of those infected
will only have mild symptoms. Some of the remaining infected must
be treated intensively. The numbers are very good
differently. I assume that you have to expect about a third. With the
Strategy in Germany to slow the spread of infection
we shouldn't have too many seriously ill people too quickly
be confident of meeting this challenge.
ZEIT ONLINE: As a private person, you are relaxed. And
professionally, as head of the Corona crisis team at Helios clinics? How strong
under pressure do you feel there on the scale from 1 to 10?
Meier-Hellmann: I would classify myself as ten. My
But worries are not primarily medically justified. Much more
We have problems with things that can be used for theoretical preparation
didn't expect a pandemic.
ZEIT ONLINE: And the
Meier-Hellmann: For example, that people at once
start stealing disinfectants or protective clothing from the wards.
Today we know that we cannot leave the camps unattended. Now
we must not only take the appropriate safety precautions, but
also readjust when shopping. And that takes time and effort.
ZEIT ONLINE: But the
Resources are not infinite – especially since EU countries, including Germany,
have already imposed export freezes on certain medical items.
Meier-Hellmann: Sure, for example for disinfectants
and respirators, every country is selfish and that's in one
Exceptional situation like this also understandable. Of course it will
Getting more and more difficult the more people get sick. At the moment it sees
as if we don't expect a serious bottleneck anywhere
to have. And of course we try to build: where we plan in perspective
had to buy respirators, for example, we pull the delivery
to be on the safe side.
ZEIT ONLINE: What
however, presupposes that there are also enough medical personnel to take care of the
Meier-Hellmann: Right. Which actually concerns me a lot more than it does
The expected bottlenecks in the technical equipment are those at the
Employees. Here too, unfortunately, we are dealing in part with problems that
would be avoidable.
ZEIT ONLINE: Which for
Meier-Hellmann: For example with incomprehensible conditions on the part of
of the authorities. In Lower Saxony or Thuringia, for example, all clinic employees who are somewhere in Italy Have vacationed, all-inclusive
sent to quarantine for two weeks. Even with a person who is in
Italy lives, the risk that he is infected with the virus is currently only around 1: 6000. Nevertheless, we now have to deal with individuals
Health authorities discuss exemptions. It takes a lot of strength –
even though we need these people so badly.
ZEIT ONLINE: How
explain such conditions – especially since the procedures of the authorities yes
are obviously different everywhere?
Meier-Hellmann: In some places people act who are afraid in an exceptional situation like
this one that has so many unknowns ready to take responsibility. Then
sometimes unreasonable decisions are made, which are driven by the desire that you end up with none
Can prove wrong decision. This may be understandable on a human level, but precisely
if the situation becomes even more difficult not to answer.
I think the inconsistent behavior of the authorities is very problematic
additionally unsettles people. How should it be conveyed that in some places all returnees from crisis areas have to be quarantined and in others not? Naturally
nobody knows what is really necessary in the current situation and maybe
let's say in three months that some measures have been exaggerated. This is
but all we need is a clear set of guidelines.