Europe’s first cross-border healthcare center has opened on the border between Austria and the Czech Republic. Once the Iron Curtain prevailed, doctors now care for and interpret patients from both countries.
“The population in the Czech border region actually lacks a general practitioner at the moment,” explains GP Christian Schäfer.
Patient Jana Motlová now only needs to walk a few meters across the border from the Czech Republic to see a specialist in Austria. Earlier, the 32-year-old had to drive an hour to the nearest Czech city.
“We do not have a gynecologist either,” she says. “We had one before but unfortunately not anymore. There is not even a dentist.”
For decades, the Austrian city of Gmünd and the Czech city of Ceske Velenice were separated by barbed wire.
Now the new health center called “Healthacross” aims to medically revitalize the infrastructure in the region, with about 40 doctors and care providers under one roof.
At the grand opening, the Czech Minister of Health, Adam Vojtěch, noted that health knows no bounds.
“I think this can be a good example for other countries in Europe as well,” he said. We live in the European Union, so it is a great advantage that we have no borders – no physical borders. “
“We have been working on this health region project for a very long time, 15 years,” said the governor of Lower Austria, Johanna Mikl-Leitner. “This was only possible because we have received financial support from the European Union through various regional funding programs.”
Thanks to EU subsidies, more than 9,000 Czechs have also received treatment at the nearest Austrian hospital, both as inpatient and outpatient care. At present, these services still have to be approved individually by the respective national health insurance companies. This obstacle will be removed at the beginning of next year.
“Of course, the prices of healthcare are different in the Czech Republic and in Austria, so we need to find out how we solve this problem with compensation,” says Vojtěch.
Austria has meanwhile launched further cross-border health cooperation with Slovakia and Hungary. The problem in rural areas is often the lack of doctors. The Czech and Austrian people now hope that this will change with the Healthacross Center.