Nursing homes ask fire brigades for assistance, "we urgently need a hand to help"
The regions Gooi and Vechtstreek (both in Noord-Holland) have asked firefighters to help out in two care institutions. The involved nursing homes De Bolder in Huizen and Zonnehoeve in Hilversum have been severely affected by the coronavirus.
Chairman of the security region, Pieter Broertjes, and also Mayor of Hilversum, tells the regional broadcaster NH Nieuws that these are serious outbreaks. That is why, like in other regions where the need is urgent, he has submitted a letter to the cabinet asking for military assistance.
However, waiting for the Ministry of Defense to help might take too long. “We urgently need a hand to help, and defense is taking too long as far as I’m concerned,” said Broertjes. “We have to be creative and see if we cannot solve it faster and better than waiting for help from Defense.” He is not only speaking of help from the fire brigade but also the Red Cross and “even family members.”
Firefighters, voluntary and professional, have been asked to assist for at least the next two weeks. They are compensated for this. The Dutch Fire Service announced that there had been no national appeal from the Council of Security Regions to the fire service. Regions themselves determine whether they want to ask for help.
A spokesperson for Vivium, the healthcare group that includes De Bolder, says that military help is desperately needed to deal with staff shortages caused by the outbreak. “We asked for four people, two IG care workers, and two nurses. The fire brigade and the Red Cross cannot take over those tasks, they really need expertise.”
Due to the high number of Covid-19 infections, the need for long-term care is high. “One-third of nursing homes are currently having an outbreak,” said Conny Helder of the trade association Actiz. “Often, they are also somewhat larger outbreaks. Then sometime half of the staff is sick within one or two days.”
Starting Wednesday, the Ministry of Defense will help in the regions of Groningen, Twente and Noord and Oost-Gelderland. Operations Director Boudewijn Boots tempered expectations on Monday, warning that “we cannot take over nursing homes, hospitals or departments thereof. Defense is not a company full of medically trained soldiers and can only help out.”