Christoph Dahmen: "We didn't use tax money" – Echo Online

The ventilation system under the roof of the Schloss Heiligenberg in Seeheim-Jugenheim is a special solution for meeting the requirements of protecting the monument. According to the clinic's management, the project has underestimated the protection of the monument. Photo by Hans Dieter Erlenbach

The ventilation system under the roof of the Schloss Heiligenberg in Seeheim-Jugenheim is a special solution for meeting the requirements of protecting the monument. According to the clinic's management, the project has underestimated the protection of the monument. Photo by Hans Dieter Erlenbach

SEEHEIM-JUGENHEIM – The project has long been criticized, first as a beauty clinic and now as a cosmetic surgery practice: reconstruction of the east wing of Heiligenberg Castle in Seeheim-Jugenheim. The CDU has repeatedly criticized this, most recently for introducing the Circuit Amendment Act for this year. The Taxpayers Association has included the project in its current black book. Tenor: Circle should have been aware of the feasibility. The most important questions at a glance:

Is the money spent on project tax?

The fact is that the project has grown from around EUR 1.5 million to around EUR 3.38 million. "But it's not a waste of tax money," says CEO Christoph Dahmen, "we didn't use any tax money." Because, unlike medically required clinic services, cosmetic treatments may not be subsidized or made up for deficits. It also affects conversion costs. "There is a separation budget," says Klaus County Administrator Peter Schellhaas (SPD). A loan was taken to work at Schloss Heiligenberg. He will then be paid income from the cosmetics department.

Why the idea of ​​having a cosmetic surgery branch at the Jugenheim District Clinic, and therefore at Schloss Heiligenberg?

"We thought about where we could make money," says CEO Pelin Meyer. District hospitals are in short supply, they have to support themselves with tax money every year. "There are many people who offer low quality cosmetic surgery. We offer quality, professional."

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Steuerzahlerbund criticized that there was only one practice left of the once-planned clinic in Schloss Heiligenberg. Feasibility should be examined in greater detail beforehand. What services are canceled?

"There is no reduction in the spectrum," says Pelin Meyer. "The same services are planned, the only difference is where we will provide what services we need to do at the Jugenheim County Clinic, smaller cosmetic procedures are performed in the castle, but very critical and therefore lucrative interventions such as cardiac surgery should never be placed in Heiligenberg or "They are in Gross-Umstadt and reside there," the district manager says.

And the criticism of the CDU that the operating room itself cannot be installed in such an old lock, in accordance with hygiene requirements?

"We dropped the idea with the OP there in 2016," says Pelin Meyer, "because in Jugenheim we have the infrastructure – and we would have to build them there first." This includes night nurses and the like. In addition, surgery at a district hospital will make better use of the third operating room. For hygiene, a special roof ventilation solution is installed in Schloss Heiligenberg, which does not exist anywhere else.

But why the decision?

"We were not aware of the great role that the protection of the monument plays," says Christoph Dahmen. "The first architecture firm made good plans, but it's not very feasible." Because of this, the architect was exchanged. Professor Kristian Kaffenberger took office. "We install a high-end engine in a classic car," says Pelin Meyer, "but we had an architect who knows about state-of-the-art engines, but not classic cars."

Will the coveted private patients not be lost if they can no longer live in the castle?

"Normal rooms in Jugenheim already have a high standard, and voting rooms are almost hotel-like," says Christoph Dahmen. It is also quieter in Jugenheim than in Gross-Umstadt, because not so many emergencies have been reported. "Private insurance does not pay for such interventions," says Pelin Meyer. "We have to say goodbye to the fact that the aesthetic is only for the elitist clientele." Of course, you should also address the "well-paying payer," Dahmen says. But not only: "These services should be for everyone in the county, the prices will not only be in the top leagues."

Why is it expensive?

The remodeling took about a year, but that was not the main reason for the price increase. According to Kristian Kaffenberger, around € 300,000 has been saved from first planning. Currently, the district pays rent – about 3600 euros per month. It does strike a positive balance though. "Construction costs were evolving in ways we didn't want," says Landrat Schellhaas. "The development of construction prices is dramatic," says Kristian Kaffenberger, "I have other projects because it's doubled because they can't do anything about it." Cost multiplication also doubles the time it takes for a conversion to pay for itself.

And that was not predictable?

"The problem was that we put the business plan at a time when the basis for it was too soft," Schellhaas says.

What role does the preservation of the castle play?

The Schellhaas district manager emphasizes that the property is the "central cultural monument of the region" and will have to rebuild it anyway with taxpayer money in the next few years. And Kristian Kaffenberger is reminiscent of Auerbach Castle in Bensheim. "Everybody goes out there and they enjoy it, but it's real tax money. Nobody sees it."