This article was originally published on www.orderofmalta.int.
“Numbers and facts say a lot to us, but values tell us even more.” These words introduce the 2019 activity report of the “Maltesers” by Elmar Pankau, president of the executive committee of Malteser Hilfsdienst and Malteser Deutschland, the organizations operating under the umbrella of the Order of Malta’s German Association. For German public opinion, the Maltesers are “those who provide first-aid and assist the needy, the sick and the elderly without any discrimination regarding their origins or their political or religious convictions” and this exactly reflects the motto under which the Order of Malta has been working for centuries.
In Germany a total of 86,000 persons – 51.000 volunteers and 35,000 professionals – provide every kind of assistance both in the country and abroad. These also include the 6,750 members of the “Malteser Jugend” youth group that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. With over a million supporters and some 400,000 participants in its first-aid courses, Malteser also manages three schools, eleven hospitals and specialized clinics, as well as 34 facilities for the elderly. In 2018, the Order’s volunteers in Germany served 3.6 million meals, performed 1.06 million first-aid procedures and ambulance transfers and treated 8,600 patients without health insurance.
In the report particular attention was paid to the overload of the emergency services. An increasing number of people, either misreading symptoms or for convenience, call 112 or go to the E.R. for low-emergency illnesses or accidents. This inappropriate use became so damaging that the German legislator issued a new law in May 2019. The Maltesers responded with a series of innovative solutions, both digital and architectural. A pilot project in Oldenburg Land offers specific training for those answering calls, so they can more easily assess whether an ambulance is needed or not. And in Bonn, where an average of 70 patients arrive daily in the E.R. of the Blessed Gerard Hospital run by the Maltesers, the area has been completely reorganized to respond more effectively to the needs of both the medical staff and the patients and those accompanying them.