An unusually generous donation of 13.8 million Euros will enable the University of Heidelberg to build a new pediatric hospital. The donor is Manfred Lautenschläger, chairman of the supervisory board of the MLP financial services company and honorary senator of the University of Heidelberg. Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff expressed his profoundest gratitude to Mr. Lautenschläger for an "extraordinary degree of emotional and financial commitment unprecedented in the entire 615-year history of the University of Heidelberg." Rector Hommelhoff went on to say that the new hospital would greatly strengthen Heidelberg's competitive standing. Prof. Dr. Eike Martin, medical director of the University of Heidelberg's health care and research complex, added a vote of thanks of his own: "With a modern pediatric hospital we can offer the youngsters entrusted to our care not only high-quality medical treatment but also an environment that will aid recovery."
Professor Hommelhoff further stressed the fact that without the selfless generosity of donors such as Manfred Lautenschläger the University would not be able to maintain the level of excellence attested by international evaluators, notably in the field of medicine: "Once again, our honorary senator Manfred Lautenschläger has set an example of dedication and commitment for all others to emulate."
In response, Lautenschläger said that he expected his donation to ensure that Heidelberg would soon be in possession of a modern, attractive pediatric hospital. "I am not making the donation conditional on any hard and fast stipulations of my own but I shall be observing things in the planning stage and certainly putting forward my views about the architecture of the building." Financially speaking, a new, publicly funded hospital would have taken ten to twelve years to realise. "But that would have meant soldiering on with makeshift, provisional solutions nowhere near the standards a modern children's hospital has to live up to," said Lautenschläger. He presented the deed of donation to the University today in the presence of minister-president Erwin Teufel.
According to the University authorities, the total investment required for the new hospital is approximately 41 million Euros. Of this 20.5 million will be shouldered by the Federal Government, 6.7 by the state of Baden-Württemberg, with the Lautenschläger donation bridging the remaining gap of 13.5 million Euros.
Rooming-in completely unknown in the 1960s
Without the donation, the existing building from the 1960s would have had to be renovated without attaining the standards required of a modern children's hospital. "In buildings from the 1950s and 60s," says a project report by the Medical Planning Group of the University, "the medical perspective, notably infection prevention, was all-important. The children themselves played only a subsidiary role." Rooming-in, for example, today an integral part of any overall children's care design, was totally unknown at the time.
In a bid to bring the old pediatric hospital in line with present-day medical, operative and security norms in the absence of the requisite financial resources for a new building, the University reluctantly adopted a large-scale renovation programme in the early 1990s which the state government then approved and supported. The total expenditure would have been 28 million Euros, and part of these funds have already been invested for the purpose. But the renovation scheme proper was only due to start in the near future.
The prospects for the pediatric hospital were thus anything but rosy. Obviously, the normal "business" of the hospital would have had to carry on under these trying circumstances and in the long run the hospital would have had to live with what was tantamount to a perpetuation of a provisional state of affairs. The renovation was planned to take place in five stages spread out over 12 years. This would inevitably have resulted in major disruptions and also involved substantial damage to the hospital's reputation. Patients, parents and staff would have had to live with an intolerable level of noise and many clients would have opted for rival hospitals in the region.
Spending to economise
Inefficiency is an expensive luxury. The high-rise design of the hospital as it stands is unsuitable for the running of a modern hospital. The way things are at the moment, the hospital is indeed linked up with a goods transportation system, but automated supplies to the individual storeys of the building are impossible and the cost of devising an automated supply system for what is now an antiquated building would be unreasonably high. At present, the University authorities say, the layout of the building prevents thwarts economy drives to the tune of some 3 million Euros annually. Building an entirely new pediatric hospital will thus mobilise vast dormant reserves and actually save money in the long term.
The new pediatric hospital will have 90 beds for inpatient care. The construction project will be supervised by the University Planning Office. The new building will be situated next to the Internal Medicine Hospital and the new Women's Hospital (still in the planning stage). If things go well, the building can open its doors early 2007. At present the pediatric hospital is accommodated in 10 different buildings, some of which will be demolished in the course of the construction of the new hospital. The present main pediatric hospital building will be converted to house a school for young patients on the two bottom storeys, while the upper six floors of the high-rise building will be used to provide badly needed accommodation for staff, children attending the hospital school, and patients' relatives.
Manfred Lautenschläger: entrepreneur and patron
Manfred Lautenschäger was born in Karlsruhe in 1938 and studied law in Heidelberg, Freiburg and Hamburg. After a brief spell as a practising lawyer he teamed up with Eicke Marschollek in 1971 to establish the Marschollek, Lautenschläger und Partner KG. The firm was later transformed into a limited company and ultimately (1984) into a public company. From 1984 to 1999 Manfred Lautenschläger was chairman of the board of managing directors of the company. On 19 May 1999 he withdrew from the operative side of the business and now chairs the supervisory board. Today, MLP is Europe's leading up-market financial services broker for private clients and academics. With a staff of over 3,700 the company was supporting some 453,000 clients at end 2001, 82,500 more than the previous year.
Since his withdrawal from the business side of the enterprise Lautenschläger has been increasing his commitments as a patron of the arts and sciences. In late 1999 he founded the Lautenschläger Foundation specifically to support research and science alongside his existing dedication to deserving cultural and social causes. The Foundation has 350 million Euros at its disposal, which makes it one of Germany's top ten private foundations.
Last year Manfred Lautenschläger donated the Lautenschläger Research Prize to the University of Heidelberg. With funds amounting to 255,000 Euros awarded every two years, it is one of Germany's most generously endowed research prizes. Lautenschläger caused another stir some two years back by providing two Heidelberg research teams with a large house in the residential district of Handschuhsheim as a work base. The task set them was to press ahead with the reform of the German tax system. The "Heidelberg Tax Villa" houses both the team headed by Prof. Dr. Paul Kirchhof, who as a judge at the Federal Constitutional Court was involved in some much-noted rulings in connection with tax law, and also the research group led by financial studies professor Dr. Manfred Rose. "They're doing sterling work at the Tax Villa," enthuses Lautenschläger who placed the mansion at the disposal of the University of Heidelberg free of charge in June 2000.
Manfred Lautenschläger's elective affinities with the city and university of Heidelberg date back to his student days. On 10 November 1998 he was made honorary senator of the University of Heidelberg. He participates in the decision-making processes of the University by acting as a member of the University Council and of the supervisory board of the University medical care and research complex.
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