Hospital outpatient clinics reopening as regular care in Netherlands restarts

With the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care falling, regular hospital care in the Netherlands is being resumed. This week the outpatient clinics in Noord-Holland and Flevoland will start operating again, with some extra precautionary measures, Yvo Roos of ROAZ, the body that coordinates acute care in this region, said to NOS.

A lot of effort was put into making sure outpatient clinics can adhere to social distancing and keep people 1.5 meters apart, according to Roos. The location of entrances and exits were examined, and routes inside the clinics were indicated with arrows. "We have created a kind of one-way street," Roos said to the broadcaster. "But we also looked at how we can prevent too many patients at the same time and waiting rooms filling up."

Patients will be extensively screened before they go to the outpatient clinic. "This means that we go through a telephone questionnaire to see if there are any symptoms that point to corona." If not, patients can go to the outpatient clinic, where they will again be checked for Covid-19 symptoms before being allowed to enter.

These measures should sufficiently guarantee safety inside the clinics, so that no masks have to be worn inside, according to Roos. "But a doctor who has to get close to the patient, such as a throat, nose and ear doctor, will have to put on a mask."

Roos called on people to contact their outpatient clinic if they need to, and not to be afraid. "Everyone naturally associates hospitals with 'the disease'. But hospitals have done their utmost to ensure that patients are safe."