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Foto: Christopher Olssøn

LHL - a better life


LHL, the National Association for Heart and Lung Diseases, was founded in 1943, under the name of the Tuberculosis Relief Society (THO). Tuberculosis was then a major disease group in Norway, and around 10,000 Norwegians suffered from tuberculosis every year. Therefore, a group of idealistic persons identified the need for an organization that could fight for their interests and rights. One of the biggest challenges was to overcome people's fear of infection and the consequent exclusion from society.

The Tuberculosis Relief Society fought for many important social policy issues. The first goals achieved were better treatment options and living conditions, employment and social security and the construction of a vocational school for people that had suffered from tuberculosis.

Today tuberculosis is a rare disease in Norway, and those affected get good  treatment and survive. The school is still in operation though, and now the students a persons with other types of disabilities.

After the decrease of tuberculosis, a new group of diseases emerged: cardiovascular diseases - hearth disease, peripheral arterial disease and stroke. During the 1970ies and the 1980ies medical and surgical treatment for heart disease improved. In Norway the capacity for heart surgery was limited and in the 1980ies it was established an air bridge where patients and health personnel were flown to United Kingdom for treatment. Again the idealists of LHL took action. They argued that it was unacceptable that Norway was unable to give adequate treatment to its own citizens. LHL at that time had a conference center one hours drive outside Oslo. This was transformed to at hearth hospital by building operating theatres and other facilities together with the congress center. Then the Feiring heart hospital opened in 1989.

Due to the smoking epidemic in the western countries, other types of lung diseases such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease have increased over the last decades. Glittre Sanatorium was a tuberculosis sanatorium, and went on to become a general lung hospital after World War II. The government  operated the hospital until 1990, then LHL took over the builidings and started a modern lung hospital for rehabilitation.

In addition to Feiring hospital and Glittre hospital, LHL owns and runs rehabilitation hospitals in all regions of Norway: North of Norway (Skibotn rehabilitation hospital, Middle of Norway (Røros rehabilitation hospital), Western Norway (Bergen rehabilitation hospital) and South of Norway (Nærland rehabilitation hospital).

Our hospitals are for historically reasons mainly located in rural communities. Over the last years it has been LHL strategy to change this. We want to have hospitals in urban areal – LHL wants to be where people live their lives.

LHL is an ideal organization

LHL represents and works for patients with heart and pulmonary diseases in Norway. LHL has 52 000 members and owns hospitals in all regions in Norway. This means that the hospitals are wholly patient-owned.

LHL is a non-profit organization. This means that all financial profit remains within the organization and is channeled to medical purposes. No earnings may be taken out of the organization. LHL promotes the interests of heart and lung patients vis-à-vis Norwegian authorities.

As a hospital owner LHL have extensive services in rehabilitation and medical treatment. LHL has an agreement with the regional health authorities and delivers a material share of public health care services in the fields of cardiac surgery and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation.

LHL is a democratic organization. Members gather in local teams, which is LHL's foundation organization. The local team is an open and inclusive meeting place for people with cardiovascular disease, their relatives and others that want to contribute to the cause of the organisation. Local teams will build networks by arranging collections, equal opportunities, study measures, proposing user representatives and participating in LHL's campaigns. LHL currently has about 250 local teams.

The National Assembly is LHL's highest authority and is held every three years. The National Assembly's tasks are to draw up the lines for the business, check the results and elect Board, Control Committee and Nomination Committee.

The Board's task is to implement the decisions of the National Assembly, as well as to manage the LHL organization and businesses. The Board consists of chairmen, first and second vice-chairmen and eight board members with eight deputies. In addition, two representatives come with two deputies for the employees.

The Feiring Heart Hospital

The Feiring Heart Hospital, located in Eidsvoll municipality north of Oslo, is a specialized hospital for the treatment of adult heart disease. Since its inception in 1989, the hospital has carried out over 70,000 cardiac examinations (angiographies) and over 50,000 cardiac treatments.  The clinic in 2011 opened its own department for cardiac rehabilitation. We also offer ablation treatment of heart fibrillation.

The hospital now has about 220 employees. About 25 percent of all investigations and treatments undertaken in Norway within the clinic's special area are done at Feiring hearth hospital. This means that the hospital carry out approximately 4,500 angiographic investigations, 1 700 extensions (PCI), 200 ablations and 650 bypass and valve operations each year. The rehabilitation department has an annual capacity of 500 participants.

It is an integral part of the hospitals philosophy to motivate the patients towards  a better lifestyle. Therefore, lifestyle change goes as a red thread through our rehabilitation program. We offer a interdisciplinary team that consists of physicians, psychologists, nurses, physiotherapists, sports educators, attending consultants, diet counselors and nutritionists, all with high skills. In addition, we have a particular focus on helping patients to return to working life for patients in the right age groups.

The Feiring Heart Hospital has since 1989 made annual contract with the regional governmental authorities. Thus, all cardiological procedures and heart surgery services has been an integral part of the public health program in Norway. A new framework agreement was signed in 2015. The agreement provides a sound basis for the proper operation. For the cardiological business, a performance agreement for 2017 has been signed with Health South East.

In Norway, the Feiring hearth hospital is well known for satisfied patients, good medical results, a skilled and stable workforce and for efficacy. The latter is due to a series of factors. Feiring is an elective hospital, thus the program and the logistics can be planned. Our employs are extremely skilled and feel a personal responsibility for the patient and the hospital. Therefore, the planned program for the day will always be completed, if necessary with overtime, and we never reschedule patients till the next day. Feiring is not a teaching hospital for young doctors. All our cardiologists and surgeons are very experienced. This results in shorter time on each procedure, which is god for the patient and contributes to low infection rates.

The incidence of cardiac disease that need open heart surgery has declined in western countries due to better life style and prophylactic measures. In addition for a group of patients invasive therapy (PCI) is a sufficient treatment. Therefore the number of open heart surgery procedures at Feiring heart hospital has decreased from some 1400 operations some years ago to 600 this year. Due to a substantial increase in the older population in Norway it is likely that the number of open heart surgery procedures will increase in the years ahead. Even so, our new hosptal with skilled surgeons and personnel has capacity to increase with some 1000 operations, and in the new hospital the building, the logistics and the new equipment is all designed for such increases.

The Glittre Lung hospital

Glittre Lung hospital is a specialist clinic for treatment and rehabilitation of lung disease and is located in Nittedal municipality outside Oslo and is Norway's largest and leading clinic for lung rehabilitation. Waiting lists for the clinic are long and patient inflows are high. At Glittre, we receive around 1,300 patients for investigation, treatment and rehabilitation in connection with pulmonary disease. The clinic mainly addresses patients with asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Glittre hospital has been modernized and expanded and includes a treatment pool, whirlpool, gymnasium, fitness equipment, outdoor tennis court and mini golf course.

In 2013, an outpatient clinics for cardiovascular disease were established at Glittre Lung Hospital. In the latest agreement with Health South East (RHF), Glittre hospital has achieved prices and volumes that provide a basis for sound operation. The Glittre hospital is also moving to the new LHL hospital at Gardermoen.

New LHL-hospital close to Oslo Airport

For historical reasons the hospitals an clinics own and operated by LHL has been located to rural areas. Previously, patients were willing to travel longer for medical care, and they stayed longer at the institution. In order to be attractive to the modern patient and to grow as a supplier of advanced medical care, LHL has a strategy to move activities from rural to urban locations. The major action in this plan is to merge our heart hospital and our lung hospital and move to a brand new hospital located close to Oslo airport. This makes the new LHL hospital an accessible hospital for the whole of Norway and for patients from other countries.

A flight from New York to Oslo is some seven hours and the hospital is 10 minutes from the airport.