The HUG are “on the right track”, according to Bertrand Levrat

The HUG are “on the right track”, according to Bertrand Levrat
The HUG are “on the right track”, according to Bertrand Levrat

The University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) are on the right track. “They are at the top in their three essential missions: care, teaching and research,” says their former general director Bertrand Levrat, who ended his mandate at the end of April.

Bertrand Levrat left the management of HUG at the end of April (archives).


“During these eleven years, I kept asking myself if I would send my family members to any service. In case of doubt, I intervened,” notes Bertrand Levrat in a review interview published Thursday by the daily Le Temps. “I am handing over the keys to a hospital of excellence with very committed professionals,” he continues.

The former director feels he leaves a hospital in better shape when he leaves than when he arrived. “Notably because I gave people a taste and desire for entrepreneurship during my mandate. I introduced a culture of entrepreneurship in the hospital: everyone can carry out projects if they have a good idea,” he says.

Extraordinary commitment

The Covid crisis has obviously marked its era. “No one from the outside can understand what we went through, the decisions we had to make. At one point, there were only three days of anesthetics left for all of French-speaking Switzerland,” he illustrates.

“Everyone was extraordinarily committed: the doctors and carers, but also the cleaners, the transporters and the cooks. And this over time. There were seven waves and we welcomed nearly 12,000 covid patients. As in Italy, we were on the verge of rupture. Such an experience leaves a mark as much as it welds,” he emphasizes.

And to note that the “support from the political authorities was very strong. We suffered significant deficits, because we had to mobilize entirely for covid patients to the detriment of other activities, surgical in particular. This explains the discrepancy with the budget. The State compensated our losses, to the tune of several hundred million francs.”


Among other significant events, Bertrand Levrat cites the death of Adeline, which deeply marked and affected him. “I had been at the head of HUG for three months when she was assassinated (…).. I don’t feel like I made any mistakes, but I was personally involved. I thought a lot about the situation, about what we could have done better or differently.”

In a less dramatic context, Bertrand Levrat admits to having “mistaken” by wanting to change the badges. “Another time, I was also the laughing stock of all the employees: the salaries of around 13,000 employees were paid twice. We’re talking about 120 million francs! (…). We got all the money back. I had nothing to do with it, but as director I was responsible for everything.”

Assured transition

As for the transition with his successor Robert Mardini who will take office in September, it is ensured by the entire management which is “solid”, he certifies. “In addition, the medical director, Arnaud Perrier, remains precisely for this until the end of the year (…) before retiring. For my part, the decision was not made on a whim. After more than ten years in the institution, I wanted to lead other projects.”

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