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© Charité | Wiebke Peitz

Press release


Charité records slight deficit during pandemic year 2020

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Group of companies posts positive result of € 5.6 million

Charité-Jahresbericht 2020 © Charité
Charité-Jahresbericht 2020 © Charité

During 2020, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin recorded a minor deficit of approximately € 1.3 million. Both in terms of patient care services and finances, the year was largely dominated by the pandemic. Thanks to the Berlin state government’s financial support package, Charité came close to covering losses arising from pandemic-related pressures. Charité’s performance also speaks to the sound financial foundation underpinning the hospital and faculty. The financial report was approved by Charité’s Supervisory Board at today’s meeting. 

At Charité, the year 2020 was largely defined by the pandemic. The confirmation and subsequent admission of Berlin’s first COVID-19 patients in mid-March marked the start of the pandemic for Berlin’s health care sector. Aimed at ensuring the delivery of acute intensive care throughout the Berlin area, the ‘SAVE’ concept was developed early on in the pandemic and saw Charité adopt the role of intensive care coordinator and advisor. As a ‘level 1’ center, Charité treats the most severe cases in addition to being responsible for the central coordination and allocation of intensive care beds across all ‘level 2’ facilities in the Berlin-Brandenburg area. Having treated approximately 2,600 inpatients with COVID-19 – 1,255 of whom required intensive care – Charité is one of the leading institutions in the fight against the pandemic.  

Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin and Chair of Charité’s Supervisory Board, explains: “Time and time again, Charité has demonstrated outstanding achievements in teaching, research and patient care. During the pandemic year of 2020, however, it has outclassed itself. Under the most trying of circumstances, Charité successfully maintained its course and took on a key role in the fight against the pandemic, both in Berlin and nationwide. Not only does this deserve respect, it also deserves adequate financial support. The Berlin state government has provided additional funding to the tune of over € 50 million. It also provided extra funding for teaching and research, as federal compensation payments fall drastically short of what is needed to compensate Charité for extraordinary expenditures incurred as a result of the pandemic. As the Chair of the Supervisory Board, and speaking on behalf of our entire city, I would like to thank each and every one of Charité’s members of staff for their commitment and hard work.”  

Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Charité’s Chief Executive Officer, emphasizes: “The coronavirus pandemic led to a paradigm shift within the health care sector. We soon realized that this would have ramifications for our 2020 financial result and that, after producing positive annual results for nine years in a row, Charité was likely to record a deficit.” He adds: “One of the worst health crises for several decades forced both the hospital and the faculty to adapt their processes to match the dynamic nature of the pandemic.“   

During the reporting period, the faculty secured approximately € 196 million in external funding, once again breaking Charité’s previous record. Not only does this achievement speak to the outstanding quality of Charité’s research, it also represents a major contribution to Berlin’s development as a hub of research. Charité’s exceptional research performance on both the national and international levels is evidenced by its involvement in 28 DFG Collaborative Research Centers (national) and 23 EU projects (international).  

Astrid Lurati, Charité’s Chief Financial and Infrastructure Officer, explains: “2020 represented a harsh stress test for Charité, both from a human and a financial perspective. In view of the crisis situation, Charité’s Executive Board deprioritized the organization’s financial objectives, instead pouring its strength and resources into caring for patients and managing the pandemic. We did what needed to be done in this type of situation. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Berlin state government, going above and beyond our traditional duties in order to help manage this health crisis. The reduction in clinical services and the creation of additional intensive care capacity resulted in unprecedented financial pressures which were beyond the statutory compensation measures introduced by the federal government. Thanks to the Berlin state government’s € 49.4 million financial support package for additional expenditures incurred during the pandemic, Charité was able to achieve an exceptional year-end result: total revenues of over € 2 billion, a close to break-even result of minus € 1.3 million and a positive annual result of € 5.6 million across its group of companies.” 

Prof. Kroemer adds: “The Executive Board is immensely grateful for the exceptional hard work and dedication of all members of staff at Charité and elsewhere in the Charité group of companies. Showing an exemplary degree of solidarity and organizational aplomb, the approximately 19,400 members of staff working across our group of companies have spared no effort, working together to ensure the best possible care for COVID-19 patients and to produce research which will help to fight the pandemic. We are incredibly proud of all our staff, for breathing life into our motto: ‘Together As One’.”  

In addition to meeting the challenges of the pandemic, Charité delivered on structural project milestones: thanks to a successful BMBF funding bid by Charité, the BIH and MDC, Berlin was selected as one of four new National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) sites. The proposal, which includes plans for an innovative new building, received additional support from the state government. Plans for a heart center jointly run by Charité and the German Heart Center Berlin (DHZB) have been transformed into a viable commercial model for the consolidation of the two partners’ cardiology and cardiac surgery departments within the new German Heart Center at Charité (DHZC). On 1 January 2021, the BIH officially transformed into the translational research unit of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, becoming the organization’s third pillar alongside the hospital and medical faculty. Following Prof. Kroemer’s appointment as Charité’s new Executive Officer, one of his first acts in office was the initiation of Charité’s strategy 2030 process, an opportunity to work with staff and students to develop a 10-year strategy for the areas of research, teaching and medical care. The strategic planning process was kicked off by the launch of Charité’s ‘Rethinking Health’ strategy document. The concept, setting out plans for innovative and pioneering developments within the areas of research, teaching, medical care and digitalization, was first presented last fall and stresses the need to focus on the future, including during the current pandemic. 

Last year also saw the completion of a number of crucial construction projects, with solid progress made on others. Examples include: the topping-out ceremony for the new ATIZ Outpatient, Translation and Innovation Center on Campus Charité Mitte, which will serve both Charité and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH); the launch of a substantial modernization and improvement program for the Berlin Museum of Medical History, which was first opened in 1899; and the completion of the significant renovation and refurbishment of the research and laboratory building for Charité and the BIH on Hessische Straße. Campus Benjamin Franklin was able to put into operation the new helicopter landing area which had to be constructed following changes in EU aviation regulations. Completed in 2019, the Charité Campus-Klinik Süd (CCKS) was able to welcome its first nursing wards. While modernization work on the four-storey modular building is ongoing, most of the wards will be housed in the main building.

Stressing the importance of looking ahead, Prof. Kroemer says: “An organization must be agile enough to quickly respond to wholly unexpected challenges – without ever losing sight of what lies ahead.  Even now, we should all be turning our focus to the future. We should use our pandemic-related experiences and knowledge to learn the lessons which will enable us to tackle future pandemics and health crises, to ensure that we emerge from this stronger together. 

One year of the pandemic at Charité
Confirmation of Berlin’s first COVID-19 cases on 1 March 2020 marked the start of the pandemic and the challenging months which followed. Thanks to its ‘level 1’ center status, Charité had treated a total of approximately 2,600 COVID-19 inpatients by the end of March 2021. 1,255 of these patients had required intensive care. The average age of COVID-19 patients treated at Charité so far is 62. Over a year ago, Charité swiftly created new structures and processes to ensure the success of its pandemic response. In addition to launching a pilot project which established the first examination unit for individuals with suspected SARS-CoV-2, Charité reorganized its clinical services into separate normal and intensive care units for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Under the ‘SAVE’ initiative, Charité acts as both coordinator and ‘level 1’ center, a status that carries responsibility for providing the best possible care for the most severe cases. Charité also established an intensive care building on Campus Charité Mitte. The building offers 135 intensive care beds with ventilators. Early on in the pandemic, Charité introduced regular coronavirus screenings for members of staff and tested all newly admitted patients. Following a request by the Senate Chancellery as part of Berlin’s testing strategy, Charité started a 12-month study in schools and childcare facilities. Between late July and early October, Charité members of staff and staff from different charities and the German Bundeswehr joined forces to test approximately 75,000 returning travelers at Berlin’s airports. To address the emotional challenges arising in relation to the pandemic, Charité established a multiprofessional Psychosocial Support Network which provides support to nursing and medical care teams, as well as patients and their families. Since the start of the pandemic, Charité-based experts from the fields of clinical medicine and research have been in regular contact with political decision-makers and the general public, sharing their insights and results in an understandable and transparent manner. In an attempt to pool their research efforts, researchers from 36 university hospitals joined forces as early as April 2020. Initiated by Charité, the National academic research network dedicated to COVID-19 (Netzwerk Universitätsmedizin, NUM) secured support from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The network, which is coordinated by Charité, was awarded €150 million in funding for one year. The German federal parliament has since decided to extend the NUM network until 2024. The new Charité/BIH COVID-19 Research Board, which was established in April 2020, consolidates the expertise of Charité and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) for research into SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. The research board’s expert members also provide answers to questions pertaining to drug-based treatments, optimal ventilation protocols, the interpretation of test results and hygiene measures. In the area of teaching and learning, Charité was forced to replace face-to-face teaching with online formats. The switch was swift, enabling Charité to continue teaching its more than 8,600 medical students. Even the matriculation ceremony held to welcome the first Bachelor of Nursing students at the beginning of the winter semester 2020/21 was held as a virtual event. Charité’s new nursing degree offers up to 60 places per year. After the completion of seven semesters, students become qualified, licensed nursing professionals, also gaining the academic title of ‘Bachelor of Science’.

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is one of the largest university hospitals in Europe, boasting approximately 100 departments and institutes spread across 4 separate campuses. At Charité, the areas of research, teaching and medical care are closely interlinked. With a total of approximately 19,400 members of staff employed across its group of companies (16,391 of which at Charité), the organization is one of the largest employers in Berlin. 4,707 of its employees work in the field of nursing, with a further 4,693 in research and medical care. Last year, Charité treated 132,383 in- and day case patients in addition to 655,138 outpatients. In 2020, Charité recorded a turnover of approximately € 2.2 billion (including external funding and investment grants) and set a new record by securing more than € 196 million in external funding. Charité’s Medical Faculty is one of the largest in Germany, educating and training more than 8,600 students across the subjects of medicine, dentistry, health sciences and nursing. Charité also offers 577 training positions across 10 different health care professions.


Rethinking Health – Charité 2030

Annual Report 2020



Manuela Zingl
Corporate Spokesperson
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin         
t: +49 30 450 570 400


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