The European Investment Bank (EIB) has provided a EUR 55m long-term loan to the South Savo Social and Health Care Joint Authority (ESSOTE) for the renovation and extension of the Central Hospital campus in the centre of Mikkeli, a municipality with a population of around 55 000.

Major operational changes will reduce the size of the hospital premises by about 20 per cent. This will support the consolidation of healthcare and social services, which are currently being delivered at various locations in the Mikkeli municipality, and provide a single site to respond effectively to the care needs of a declining but ageing population in the region. A better configured infrastructure is expected to reduce the service cost through shorter hospitalisation periods, reduced waiting times and improved use of scarce resources. Furthermore, the modernisation and replacement of outdated buildings will improve hygiene and safety conditions.

The EIB loan will also finance the digitalisation of healthcare services, as modern technologies for telemedicine and virtual consultations will be used within this programme. Due to the reduced footprint and use of modern technologies and materials the new, modernised buildings will increase overall energy efficiency.  

The reforms will be implemented in five stages under a programme known as “ESPER” – the transformation of Mikkeli Central Hospital into a modern 24/7 hospital and well-being centre – a EUR 110 million project of which the EIB loan will cover up to half. Implementation of the ESPER programme started in 2015 and it is due to be completed by 2020. It includes the construction of new buildings (a gross area of approximately 19 000 m2) and renovation of existing buildings (approximately 23 000 m2).

EIB Vice-President Jan Vapaavuori said: “The European Investment Bank, the EU bank, is committed to supporting long-term investment that will increase the supply of healthcare services and improve access to healthcare. Modernising central hospitals is essential in order to secure a high level of healthcare provision and to keep costs under control. We are very pleased to be supporting the ESPER programme, as it will benefit patients from across the region. This programme will help to move Finland’s social and healthcare reform forward and thus provide good practice and serve as a model to others”.

ESSOTE’s Director Vesa Vestala added: “In accordance with the national social and healthcare reform programme, our investment will improve customer and patient services and provide a comfortable and modern working environment for the staff. We will also be able to cut the cost of healthcare and enhance the status of the Mikkeli Central Hospital as a 24/7 emergency hospital”.

The initial phase of the hospital’s outpatient facilities will be completed first, by the beginning of 2017. The Mikkeli city health centre (Pankalampi) will move into the outpatient area of the hospital campus and a significant part of the social services will gradually also move to the hospital campus. Social services and primary healthcare will be integrated functionally with specialised healthcare.. The other stages of the ESPER programme, to be implemented between 2017 and 2020, are the Hot Hospital for acute hospital services, Family House (a maternal and child health service facility) and somatic wards, the Dental Clinic and the House of Mental Services (a mental health hospital). Construction of the related parking facilities started in early April and will be completed in the spring of 2017.

This EIB loan of up to EUR 55 million underlines the Bank's commitment to increasing the productivity and financing the renewal of the social and healthcare sector in Finland. In recent years the EIB has financed investments in hospitals in Oulu, Jyväskylä, Tampere, Kuopio and Espoo.