Coronavirus baby boom: Dutch maternity wards struggling to keep up
The Netherlands is in the midst of a baby boom and the maternity wards at Dutch hospitals are feeling it. The combination of staff shortages and a higher birthrate already resulted in a few women being transferred to Antwerp, because there was no space in the Dutch NICUs, Nieuwsuur reports.
In the first half of this year, the number of births was 5.5 percent higher than the same period in 2020.
"Five years ago we refused five patients a month. Now that is sometimes five a day," Laura de Wit, gynecologist at the Maxima MC hospital in Veldhoven, said to Nieuwsuur. The hospital's obstetrics department is also completely full. "Patients who are at risk are not refused, but sometimes we have to refer patients to another hospital because of the crowds."
Staff shortages on the newborn intensive care units (NICU) are also a problem. Many NICU nurses are overworked and tired, De Wit said. "The NICU nurses were also in intensive care units for adults during the peak of the coroanvirus crisis. Because of the baby boom, they now have to spend extra time in the NICU. That asks a lot of people."
And pregnant women are also affected. "Last month we had two women who had to go to a NICU in Antwerp, because all departments in the Netherlands were full," De Wit said. "There are only ten hospitals with a NICU. If they are full, we have to go abroad."
According to De Wit, the staff shortages are no surprise. "[NICU nurses] have to care for sick patients at all hours, by they can get the same salary if they go teach somewhere, where they have regular hours and vacation. There are quite a few who choose that."