Laurie Dieffembacq

Mayor of Aalst says that "there are limits to medical solidarity"

The Mayor of the East Flemish city of Aalst Christophe D’Haese (Flemish nationalist) has told VRT Radio 2 that he doesn’t want any more COVID-19 patients to be transferred to his city from Brussels where the hospitals are suffering from capacity issues. Mr D’Haese told Radio 2 that “The limits of medical solidarity have been reached”. 

Over the past few days Aalst’s City General Hospital and the Our Lady Hospital have have both seen the number of COVID-19 patients on their wards rise. Not all of the new patients with COVID-19 are from the Aalst area. A significant number of the new patients have been transferred to Aalst from hospitals in Brussels that is around 25km away. The hospitals in Aalst are part of the same hospital network as a number of hospitals in and around the capital such as Brussels University Hospital (UZ Brussel).

Some of the patients that are being sent from Brussels to Aalst have relatively mild symptoms, while others require intensive care. Mayor D’Haese believes that the patient transfers must stop.   

"It is of course the case that people should be helped. To not do so would be criminal negligence”.

However, he doesn’t want the level of care for people from Aalst and the surrounding area to be undermined as a result of patients being transferred to Aalst hospitals from other areas.

"There are limits to medical solidarity and I believe that a limit has now been reached. I think that it is reasonable to presume that a patient from Aalst should be able to go to hospital in Aalst. This is also the most medically responsible option, I think”.

Talks will be held in order to optimise the redistribution of patients and to ensure that enough beds are kept free to treat people from Aalst.

Mr D’Haese also fears that the influx of patients from outside the area threatens to undermine levels of care and that planned operations may have to be postponed.

"Operations such as appendicitis and heart operations still need to be able to take place. It can not be the case that operations have to be cancelled because there are no beds available due  of the influx of corona patients”.  


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