2021 was a year with two faces. On the one hand, COVID-19 once again put us under great pressure in 2021 . A lot was asked from our patients, our students, and our people. On the other hand, as a university medical center, together with our partners, we achieved impressive things with the implementation of our Connecting Worlds strategy, and accomplished a variety of innovations. Of this we are naturally extremely proud. We want to sincerely thank everyone who contributed hereto, and in particular our people who once again stood ready at all times! Despite a difficult year, employee satisfaction continued to rise slightly. How much our patients appreciate our efforts is clear from the high ratings we score in our ongoing patient-experience survey. For this too, we are very thankful and proud.
Further accelerating the right care in the right place
In 2021, the COVID pandemic brought a further acceleration in home care and digital care, and the delivery of the right care in the right place. Home-monitoring initiatives such as CovidTherapy@home and Early@home are noteworthy examples of this. It ensured that patients received the right care in a safe and effective manner; home whenever possible, and in our hospital when necessary. Our Medical Control Center plays an important part in supporting remote care. This center was therefore structurally equipped in 2021. We also once again cooperated intensively with our regional and national partners, such as the Ministry of Defense , regional hospitals, and general practitioners to provide COVID-19 care.
“One year with two faces: COVID-19 care as well as some fine innovations”
Focus and innovative research with an impact on society
It furthermore appeared that the road we took years ago - our substantive focus via our six focal points and the building of (international) cooperation agreements - offers a solid basis to rapidly bring about impactful innovations in cooperation with our partners. We have for instance set up the international foundation ECRAID and are working together with some 300 institutes in 21 countries worldwide in the REMAP-CAP study , which in 2021 also brought valuable insights for the treatment of seriously ill COVID-19 patients. We also achieved results in the treatment of cystic fibrosis and epilepsy and of people with cancer through the use of MR-Linac technology . Together with our partners at the Utrecht Science Park, including Utrecht University, the Princess Máxima Center and the Hubrecht Institute, we could respond quickly and successfully to subsidy opportunities via the Dutch National Growth Fund . Financial attributions via this fund for instance give us the possibility to develop regenerative therapies for people with chronic diseases like cancer, type 1 diabetes, cystic fibrosis, kidney failure and heart failure faster. Also with the use of organoids, which are mini-organs grown from a patient’s cells. And through our regional cooperation at Health Hub Utrecht , together with the city of Utrecht and other partners, we started with a study on pressure points pertaining to care and welfare in the Utrecht region.
New steps in the New Utrecht School
Together with Utrecht University, we also produced some innovations in 2021 within the New Utrecht School. For example we approved our new, broad Bachelor program in Care, Health and Cooperation and the new Master’s degree in Medical Humanities . In these programs, as from 2022, students will study health and care challenges from different perspectives and subject matters. This will prepare them to develop impactful solutions in the future to tackle social challenges. In the New Utrecht School and challenges via the Knowledge Alliance of TU/e, WUR, UU and UMC Utrecht, students from various programs collaborated and proposed multidisciplinary solutions to social issues.
Development in accommodation
In 2021, we also invested further in a good work environment where highly specialized care can be provided. We started for instance with the building of an ultra-modern MRI operating room for the treatment of brain tumors in children, in close cooperation with the Princess Máxima Center . Also in 2021, we finalized the definitive design for the conversion of the (neonatal) pediatric ICs in the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital, which will be done in 2022.
Lustrum 385 years of science in Utrecht
2021 was also the year in which we celebrated 385 years of science in Utrecht. In close collaboration with Utrecht University, we deployed a number of sustainable initiatives whereby we brought science and the people of Utrecht together. Examples were the Utrecht Science Agenda based on questions from Utrecht inhabitants, and the ‘Groot Utrechts Stadsdiner’ ('Great Utrecht City Dinner') that also took place at UMC Utrecht.
Looking ahead at 2022
In 2022, we once again hope to bring about important innovations within our three core tasks, together with our partners, thereby fulfilling our mission: improving human health and creating the healthcare of the future together. We want to further step up cooperation, for example with the Ministry of Defense for acute complex care, and with the Princess Máxima Center for integral complex care for children. In addition, we will continue to elaborate our longterm outlook for care and take further steps in for instance the digitalization of care, so that patients can receive care at home when possible and at our hospital when needed. This will of course also impact our Strategic Development Outlook for Accommodation . We must also determine how we want to deal with scarcity in the job market, and deploy our limited workforces as effectively and efficiently as possible in line with our care profile as a university medical center. Further cooperation, not only regional but also national and international, is of course essential here.
We are also paying attention to the war in Ukraine. We are ready to support our employees and students who have family or other loved ones in Ukraine or who have been affected by the war in any other way. We are also on standby to provide medical care for children and adults who have fled from Ukraine and have been welcomed in the Netherlands. (Medical) relief supplies are also being collected at UMC Utrecht via the ‘Ukraine needs help’ foundation.
Together we want to add value to people’s lives. We have shown this in the past year and will continue to do so. Because every person counts.
Executive Board of UMC Utrecht,
Remco van Lunteren