The acute-care hospital Waldfriede, in Zehlendorf, Berlin, Germany, celebrated its 100th anniversary in April 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony service could not take place until recently, September 10, 2022, in the Audimax of Freie Universität Berlin. While the hospital is now 102 years old, Akademie Waldfriede, founded on July 1, 1922, celebrated its 100th anniversary as a state-approved nursing school.
In her welcoming address to 800 guests, Ulrike Gote (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), senator for Science, Healthcare, and Equality of Berlin, attested to the 160-bed Waldfriede Hospital, founded in 1920, having an "excellent reputation." It is a modern facility that has constantly developed and specialized since its founding. Gote particularly emphasized the hospital's holistic concept. She also emphasized the work done for women, such as the establishment of the first baby hatch (called a “baby cradle”) in a hospital in Germany in 2000; additionally, the "Desert Flower Center Waldfriede" opened in 2013 as the first treatment center for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM).
For Dr. Axel Ekkernkamp, a professor and the medical director and managing director for Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin, it is not a matter of chance that a clinic exists for so long. He cited examples of hospitals in Berlin that had to close again after a few years of good work. Others would have been in the planning stage or even under construction but never opened.
Next to the Charité, the Waldfriede Hospital is the second oldest hospital in Berlin. Apart from the Charité, no other hospital in the city has been in the same location under the same ownership for over 100 years. Ekkernkamp described this as an "enormous achievement." The sponsor of Waldfriede is the globally active Evangelical Free Church of Seventh-day Adventists.
Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen, a physician, television presenter, cabaret artist, and author, said in a video message that an institution like Waldfriede does not have to save the whole world; "they have to save us as patients." A hospital, he said, is not just about diseases or anonymous numbers but about humanity. The fact that this is considered in Waldfriede is something he had experienced himself during an internship there.
Renate Künast (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), member of the German Bundestag (MdB), stated that health includes not only the body but also the mind and soul. It is not only the medicines that are given to the body that are important, but also the right diet. Waldfriede takes this into account through its Center for Nutritional Therapy and Prevention, he said. The hospital is a "role model in healthy nutrition."
Congratulations for the anniversary were also offered by Michael Preetz, ex-Bundesliga soccer player and former manager of Hertha BSC Berlin. Brown bear "Herthinho," the club's mascot, visited the children at the open house in Waldfriede.
Cerstin Richter-Kotowski (CDU), deputy mayor of the Berlin district of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, noted that if someone was born in the district after 1945, it often happened in Waldfriede. That was also true of her and her husband. Waldfriede, she said, is more than just a hospital; it is a health network. This includes the Academy for Health Care and Nursing (with 85 training places), the PrimaVita health center (with its associated swimming pool), the social center founded back in 1989, the Waldfriede senior citizens' home (with 85 beds), the Nikolassee private clinic for internal, psychiatric, and psychosomatic treatment, the Waldfriede psychiatric-psychosomatic day clinic, and a daycare center for children. This demonstrates a "high level of social commitment".
Detlef Albrecht, managing director of the Association of Protestant Hospitals in Berlin-Brandenburg (VEK), expressed his thanks for the good cooperation with Waldfriede. After a difficult beginning, the hospital has continued to develop. Today, it can certainly compete with larger facilities. Waldfriede is also active in the area of diaconia (the service to people). This is demonstrated, for example, by the care of refugees from Ukraine.
Ruppert Stüwe, member of the German Parliament, pointed out that Waldfriede has been an academic teaching hospital associated with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin since 1998 and also a European training center for surgical techniques in coloproctology since 2008. In cooperation with the Benjamin Franklin University Hospital, it participates in the training of students in the final year of their medical studies. Training places have been made available in the departments of internal medicine, anesthesiology, and gynecology and obstetrics. This, he said, was another way in which the hospital was providing a good service to society.
Thomas Heilmann, MdB, mentioned the Waldfriede network in southwestern Berlin was among the largest employer and training company, as well as the most diverse medical and care provider. He himself found the staff to be "friendly and super-professional."
Wigald Boning, comedian, musician, and television presenter, also described his positive experiences with the hospital. Kai Wegner, party chairman of the CDU Berlin, praised the motivation of the nursing staff. It performs "enormously" for the health care of the citizens of Berlin.
Bernd Quoß, chairman of Waldfriede Hospital and managing director for all subsidiary companies, sees his task in leading the hospital to the highest level of medical and nursing care with the help of the employees. For this reason, he says, it is particularly important for it to be among the best hospitals in Berlin and Germany in terms of medical treatment quality and patient satisfaction. "We want to continue to prove this, for example, through robotic surgery, scientific studies, certification of our cancer centers, and with international hospital corporations."
The Waldfriede health network has about 1,000 employees, Quoß said, adding that the facilities treat about 15,000 inpatients and 150,000 outpatients per year. Waldfriede Hospital has the largest outpatient surgery center (AOZ) in Berlin.
The ceremony was followed by an anniversary service. In his sermon, Johannes Naether (Hanover), president of the North German Association of the Free Church of Seventh-day Adventists, referred to Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Christ was asked by a Jewish teacher of the law what he must do to receive eternal life. The answer: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart … and your neighbor as yourself."
Another question by the teacher was, "Who then is my neighbor?" Jesus answered with the famous parable. A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, attacked by robbers, and left half dead. A priest and a temple servant (Levite) saw the man but passed him by. On the other hand, a Samaritan, whose people were despised by the locals, had compassion. He bandaged the man's wounds, put him on his donkey, led him to the nearest inn, and tended him there.
Since he had to travel on, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper money to take care of the injured man and promised to pay any further expenses upon his return. Jesus asked the teacher of the law, "Of these three, who was the neighbor to him who had fallen among the robbers?"
The teacher answered, "He who did mercy on him."
Then Jesus said to him, "Go, then, and do likewise."
Naether said everyone should ask themselves, ‘How would I behave in such a situation?’ The question about the neighbor is not about theoretical discussions. Faith and action belong together. The refugee crisis of 2015-16, with the entry of more than 1 million migrants and people seeking protection in Germany, the flood disaster of 2021, with the many voluntary helpers, and the numerous private aid efforts for Ukrainian refugees all indicate there are still people today who are willing to lend a hand.
Werner Dullinger (Ostfildern, near Stuttgart), president of the South German Association of the Free Church, and Gunnar Scholz (Berlin), president of the Berlin-Central German Conference, dealt in their speeches with the motto of Waldfriede: "Our service to man is service to God." Since the hospital was founded in 1920, the world has changed fundamentally, they said. Nevertheless, Waldfriede stands by its Christian values and is constantly developing them so they can be understood and experienced in the 21st century. All of humanity, as free creatures of God, deserve all attention and competence, regardless of their origin, faith or worldview. This is the principle by which Waldfriede is characterized.
Mario Brito (Bern, Switzerland), president of the Inter-European Division, wished for more institutions like Waldfriede in Europe. Hospitals, he said, are not just for Adventists; they serve all people.
Dr. Peter Landless (Silver Spring, Maryland, USA), medical director for health services for the General Conference, reported that there are about 900 hospitals and clinics affiliated with the Free Church worldwide, with about 140,000 employees, treating 1.5 million inpatients and 22 million outpatients each year. He thanked Waldfriede for the hospital's good performance. Since he was also jointly responsible for this hospital, he could speak like former U.S. President John F. Kennedy did: "I am a Berliner."
Dr. Johannes Krug, superintendent of the Teltow-Zehlendorf Protestant Church District, described Waldfriede in his greeting as a "filling station of human warmth."
Dr. Dybowski, prelate in the archdiocese of Berlin, pointed out that Jesus was good with people. This should also apply to His followers. People with impairments are just as valuable as are those without such disadvantages, he said.
Dr. Ursula Schön, director of the Diakonisches Werk Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz (DWBO), noted that Waldfriede had remained faithful to the people of Zehlendorf for over 100 years. Ethics, she said, had something to do with relationships. She expressed her gratitude for what has been created for this district through the health network. Waldfriede has been a member of the DWBO since 1991.
After the service, each guest was presented with the 336-page chronicle 100 Years of Waldfriede Hospital. It was commissioned by the hospital and written by author Corina Bomann. During the last 100 years, there have been many ups and downs. The hospital had to survive many things, such as the aftermath of World War I, World War II, inflation, and two world economic crises in 1929 and 2008.
Besides the Spanish flu of 1920, there is now the most recent worldwide pandemic. Early on, Waldfriede employees began to see themselves as a family, Bomann said, Adding that this cohesion, as well as the spirit of the founders, can still be felt in the building. Human warmth and competence are lived out in all departments. The author dedicated the chronicle to all those people who are always there for the well-being of the people in Waldfriede Hospital: the doctors, nursing staff, administration, kitchen and cleaning staff, and, last but not least, the many volunteers who put themselves at the service of people in need.
Bomann is currently writing Waldfriede Saga. Based on true events and inspired by ecclesiastical, political, and social chronicles, she tells of the birth and further development of Berlin's Waldfriede Hospital. The first and second volumes of the novel series The Sisters of Waldfriede have already been published.
Volume 1, Sternstunde, is about the establishment of the hospital. A young nurse faces the challenge of her life. In Volume 2, Beacon, a courageous children's nurse fights for her little patients and her own happiness. The third volume of the series, Sturmtage, is scheduled for release on December 28, 2022; the fourth volume, Wunderzeit, on May 24, 2023. Bomann lives in Berlin-Zehlendorf, in the immediate vicinity of Waldfriede Hospital.
After two years of interruption in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, it was again possible to invite everyone to an open house under the motto "Experience Waldfriede." There were lectures on plant-based lifestyle, healthy nutrition, and nutrition pertaining specifically to oncological diseases. Information booths about the medical services offered at Waldfriede Hospital and by the health network were located throughout the grounds.
Visitors were also able to talk to doctors and chief physicians. Those who wanted to take a look behind the scenes could visit the modern operating theater or take part in a guided tour. There was a colorful stage program with a live band and short performances. Children could pass the time in bouncy castles, marvel at the fleet of vehicles, have their faces painted, jump on the bungee trampoline, get creative at the handicraft street, ride a pony, or visit the teddy bear doctor. There was also plenty of food and drink available. This year's charity campaign was for Ukraine Aid. This means 100 percent of all proceeds from the open house will be used for appropriate relief work.
For more information, visit www.waldfriede.de.