Jonas Roosens

“Who gets my last bed?”

Flemish PM Jan Jambon (nationalist) has rejected criticism that his government’s new measures only kick in on Friday.  Infectious diseases expert Erika Vlieghe says that we are particularly late in taking measures and if these had been taken sooner it would have been possible to influence the curve of infections in a very different way. Meanwhile critical care doctor, Jan Stroobants, who heads the A&E at the ZNA Middelheim Hospital in Antwerp is wondering who will get the last critical care bed.

Dr Stroobants concedes the measures will help, but insists our vessel is heading for the cliffs and impact can no longer be averted.

“These measures should have been taken a lot earlier.  It will shorten the period we experience problems, but we’re heading for the cliffs.”

The A&E chief says there is a collective responsibility: “We are all responsible.  We didn’t succeed in doing what needed to be done”.

Dr Stroobants believes a greater role needed to be played by behavioural psychologists who could have succeeded in getting the message to the public at large, to ensure people understood and complied with restrictions and advice.

The doctor faces major staffing problems.  In addition to bed capacity concerns, 30% of staff are not at work: “I didn’t hear how the Flemish government intends to sort that!”

The Middelheim is currently trying to treat Covid and non-Covid patients, but it’s a challenge:

“What do I do when we only have two Covid beds left and a non-Covid patient arrives.  To who do I give our last critical care bed? This is coming down the line.  At present we can transfer to other hospitals, but that won’t last much longer.”

“In recent days we’ve been receiving documents on how to take ethical decisions.  It’s a first in my career.  The bottom line is never take a decision on your own.”

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