New building for cutting-edge cardiovascular medicine in Berlin

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin have merged their cardiac medical facilities to form the Deutsches Herzzentrum der Charité (DHZC). The DHZC is now getting a new building on Campus Virchow-Klinikum which will set new European standards with modern Operating Rooms, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories and Hybrid ORs. The building is due to be completed in 2028. The state of Berlin is providing 286.9 million euros for the project, with the federal government contributing 100 million euros. The colleagues of the Healthcare Industry Cluster spoke to the Medical Director Deutsches Herzzentrum der Charité and Director of the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Prof. Volkmar Falk, about the new building.

Why is it important to build a new heart center at the Charité?

The DHZC facilities on the Campus Virchow-Klinikum are currently spread across several buildings, which is not ideal for good and efficient patient care and the necessary procedural adjustments. In addition, the existing premises are simply too small and can barely be enlarged. As beautiful as the historic building of the former DHZB is, the building unfortunately no longer represents modern patient care. The new construction will finally make modern accommodation possible, especially for pediatric patients and their parents.

How will the planned architecture of the DHZC with its division into two parts influence the patient journey during the medical stay in future?

In planning the new building, the focus was on two fundamental aspects: firstly, the routes for both patients and staff should be as short and as clear as possible. This includes, for example, separate elevator systems for supplies, patients and visitors. On the other hand, the entire building is consistently divided vertically into a publicly accessible and a non-public area to protect the privacy of our patients. This prevents unpleasant encounters, especially between bedbound patients and hospital visitors. 

What strategies were used in the design to promote a positive working environment and staff retention?

For us as future users, it was and is particularly important at every stage of this project that this new building should not only be designed as a place of excellent patient care, but also as an working environment where our teams can do their work well and enjoy it. All professional groups were therefore involved in the planning right from the start. A key example of what our architects call “built appreciation” (“Gebaute Wertschätzung”) is the so-called “'joint,” the seventh and eighth floors, between the broad base of the building and the tower with the care areas. These two floors are reserved exclusively for employees and contain not only the changing areas, but common spaces for staff and a 400-meter-long running track through the DHZC roof garden. The quality of the recreational areas will be an essential component of staff retention.

A "green hospital approach" with sustainability certification was pursued when planning the new heart center. How can this make day-to-day medical work more climate-friendly?

The healthcare industry accounts for a significant proportion of CO2 emissions. The aim must therefore be not only to build sustainably, but also to avoid emissions as far as possible in the operation of the site. The "green hospital" approach therefore includes not only the use of resource-conserving building materials but also the use of energy-efficient systems, which significantly reduces energy consumption. This helps to cut operating costs and also promotes an environmentally conscious working atmosphere, which makes the day-to-day provision of medical services more sustainable. Waste avoidance, recycling and promoting the use of energy-saving means of transport are also part of this.

What significance does cooperation with companies and research institutions (including the Berlin-Brandenburg Healthcare cluster) have for the new building of the Deutsches Herzzentrum der Charité?

The challenges are enormous if we want to offer high-quality and at the same time economically feasible cutting-edge cardiovascular medicine in the medium and long term. We can only meet them successfully if clinics, research organizations and industry work together closely and on the basis of trust. The Charité is one of the most effective university hospitals in the world and a unique concentration of new departments and research facilities such as BECAT and SIM is currently being established on Campus Virchow-Klinikum. We as Deutsches Herzzentrum der Charité and as the site of the German Center for Cardiovascular Research will know how to exploit the resulting opportunities for translational research together with our partners for the benefit of our patients. The expansion of the necessary links with industry partners and other research institutes in the region and internationally is also supported by the Stiftung Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (DHZB Foundation). The HealthCapital Berlin-Brandenburg cluster offers further points of contact for linking up with players in the capital region.

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Source: HealthCapital Cluster Berlin Brandenburg;; as of May 22, 2024.