Construction noise everywhere on the fourth floor of the Videolab at Strijp-S. While carpenters are busy working, founders Robert Hazenberg and Dirk Jan Frijling already talk about the intentions behind this new place for expats. They just started an innovative health care center, focused completely on internationals.
‘The initiative began 2.5 years ago”, Robert explains. He is manager of the new health center, which is part of SGE, the Foundation for Health care in Eindhoven. The organisation has ten different health centers in Eindhoven, which residents can visit for all sorts of health problems. The foundation once was created by Philips’s Medical Service. “It is extraordinary to return to Philips now,” says Robert, referring to Strijp-S, the ancient site of the company where they now have settled.
The initiative began with an investigation by Dirk Jan into what internationals think of Dutch health care. It showed that there is much misunderstanding about the Dutch health care system. “Only 32% of respondents said they have confidence in Dutch doctors. Especially the prominent role of the GP is unknown to them”, says Dirk Jan, program creator of the new center. The language barrier appears to be a problem as well.
Together with Robert, a group of GP’s and the internationals themselves they came up with this initiative as an attempt to make a better match. ”Closing the Gap ‘is our motto”, says Dirk Jan, while he discoveres that the power is not working yet. The Expat Center South, and the organisation of Eindhoven Metropolitan Region are involved in the health care center as well. By the way, everyone is welcome, not only internationals and expats.
Up to now, most of the patients come from India and Poland. Also North America is doing well. The staff is trained to recognize what the ‘normal’ way of health cvare looks like in the country of origin of the patient, so they can connect to it. “Every country not only has got not its own health care system, but also its own diseases,” Dirk Jan explains.
“But it’s not like a Chinese can ask for a typical ‘Chinese therapy'”, Robert adds. Meanwhile, the carpenter asks if it’s ok to do some drilling.
Alongside a GP, the center also wants to offer a pharmacy, a physiotherapist, a dentist and a midwife. Also, one should be able to go for psychological and psychiatric assistance. As more patients come there will also be more services available. The center will be reimbursed per patient, Robert explains.
The health care center focuses on innovation. This is shown for example through the use of video-appointments. The ambition goes well beyond this project. “We want to establish a network of health care providers who want to improve the health care of internationals all over the country”, Dirk Jan explains. The first successes have already been achieved. For example, a team from Rotterdam will visit Eindhoven to look at the center. “We want this to be a testing ground for other cities.” Robert: “It’s not only a matter of will, but we must do this in the interest of patients.”
The founders emphasize that it’s a test. After three years they will decide if this is a success, financially as well as for the patients. “Up to now, the response has been predominantly positive. The internationals find it particularly pleasing that we speak English.”