The healthcare sector has had a challenging year. But in the Belgian city of Charleroi, they also had something to look forward to: commissioned by 5 local hospitals, Jan De Nul is building their hospital of tomorrow. Modular, flexible and with the patient at its heart. "COVID-19 showed that this is the right choice", says David Van Drooghenbroeck, Director Institutional Affairs at the Grand Hôpital de Charleroi (GHdC). "A hospital must be able to reinvent itself at lightning speed."

David remembers the very beginning well: "In January 2010, we started from scratch. Our hospital was making loss and healthcare in Charleroi was fragmented. However, we had a grand plan: a merger of 5 hospitals. All we had to do, was finding a site and convincing all stakeholders.” The building permit was awarded in 2015.

Blind trust

The general public knows Jan De Nul mainly for its marine activities and large ships, but the company once started as a civil contractor and has vast experience in this field. David: "In 2018, we entrusted the construction to the Temporary Partnership Jan De Nul-Franki.” Why? “Jan De Nul is known to have a great reputation in this sector. Never have I doubted their expertise in managing this immense construction project."

"I really appreciate the corporate culture and the hands-on mentality of Jan De Nul,” says David. "Whenever we encounter a problem, I have full confidence in their experts. They act quickly and pragmatically, think along with us and strive for a solution for all parties.”

Five-star hospital

Thanks to the merger, the new hospital will be one of the largest in the country and a very important regional employer. This is a great boost for a centre city like Charleroi.

Moreover, the patient will be the focus of attention. David: "In order to offer patients a quality care guarantee, we are constructing four separate buildings, each with its own function. Depending on the type of care you need, you have to go to another building. For example, long stays are separated from short stays and consultations are separated from hospitalisations. After all, each type of care creates different needs and requirements."

Covered passageways will connect the buildings and robots will deliver medication and linen. David: "What we haven’t automated is the catering. In all, we will have 13 specialised kitchens. We attach great importance to high-quality menus. Because if the food is tasty and tailored to their needs, patients will eat better and recover faster."

Site gives extra energy boost

The old coalmine site on which the Grand Hôpital de Charleroi is being built is located alongside two major traffic arteries. A real eye-catcher when approaching the city from the southeast.

"When the second corona peak pushed our caregivers to the limit, the construction site was our ray of hope. Literally, because in those dark winter days, the 13 cranes provided light. The construction works made visible progress. It was heart-warming! It gave us courage to keep going and it also created a positive dynamic in and around Charleroi, a city that is currently redeveloping itself. We are all proud of 'our' construction site", David concludes with a big smile.

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