EUROPE’S first trans-border hospital opens its doors tomorrow in the heart of the Pyrenees.
The hospital is 1,200 metres up, on the isolated Cerdagne mountain plateau which is shared by both France and Spain and will treat both French and Spanish patients.
Set in the centre of the small Catalan village of Puigcerda, just two kilometres over the border in Spain, the hospital will serve the village’s 10,000 inhabitants but will also offer healthcare for the 33,000 residents of the Cerdagne and Capcir valleys either side of the border.
Administrated as a joint project between the Languedoc-Roussillon and Catalan authorities as the Groupement Européen de Coopération Territoriale-Hôpital de Cerdagne (GECT-HC), it took longer than expected to open.
Setting up the logistics was complicated - the two countries had to work out how to address different issues including how to declare births and deaths, how to share medical records and how to reimburse healthcare fees.
The number of people making use of the hospital could rise to 150,000 during high season in summer and winter, so it is also geared up to look after foreign tourists, skiers and hikers.
The 64-bed hospital has an accident and emergency department and is equipped to perform emergency operations and births. It employs both French and Catalan staff so that patients can be sure of being understood in their own language.
The pioneering project, which was given substantial funding from EU regional development funds, was subject to feasibility studies over the last 10 years and was found to respond to a real need in the area.