As has been reported, hospitals across the region have reopened. But only for 25% of regular appointments and adjusted to the 1.5m distance requirement.
They’re happy, both in the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven and in the Máxima Medical Centre (MMC) in Veldhoven. They’re glad regular care has been restarted this week even if it’s only at quarter capacity. For more than five weeks, routine care was stopped due to the corona crisis. This caused an invisible barrier for patients who’ve had to miss appointments.
For the Máxima Medical Centre, it concerns thousands of patients, about one-sixth of the annual capacity, a surgeon at that facility, Dr Rudi Roumen, says. His hospital’s been busy with all the measures. “You can’t suddenly fully open the building again.”
Lots of changes
“It just doesn’t work that way. There has also been a lot of moving things about, not only machines and beds but nursing staff too. Of course, we’ve to adapt the hospital to the distance rules too”.
At the Catharina Hospital, too, a lot of adjustments have been made. Suzan van den Heuvel, head of the neurology department, was in a special team that prepared the facility for the start of regular care. “We set up a huge operation to get it done logistically.”
“There are people walking routes, asking patients about complaints. The waiting rooms have been adapted too. Appointments are scheduled with a lot of time between patients. So, they don’t have to run into each other”. The entire process is regionally controlled, so everything goes equally well for all hospitals, and there’s no competition in the provision of regional care.
Most urgent cases first
The most urgent cases will get preference. These patients are referred by the medical specialists and have received a letter with instructions from the hospital. When they arrive, the patients are questioned.
Do they have a fever? Any anxiety problems? The suspected cases are singled out. With a mouth mask and disinfected hands, these people are allowed to enter the hospital.
Should there be a second peak of coronavirus cases, this regular care can also be phased out. “We’ll take that into account”, Van den Heuvel says. “In any case, phasing it out is a lot easier than scaling it up”.
At the MMC, there are plans to set up a very flexible coronavirus department that can grow or shrink as needed. Dr Roumen says, “It’ll have a flexible number of beds we can adapt to the flow of incoming patients. We believe this is necessary to be well prepared”.
Translated by: Bob