A month on the frontline of the corona crisis: ‘Emotionally increasingly serious’

The work of 53-year-old Peter de Jager has been about corona for a month. Peter is the head of the intensive care unit at the Jeroen Bosch Hospital in Den Bosch. It is located in the middle of Brabant, where the corona infections contracted the fastest.

The number of IC beds has been increased to 25. Teamwork is crucial to care for all those patients, Peter emphasizes. “Colleagues from other departments are participating.”

‘Ventilation street’

The working method on the IC has also been specially adapted for the corona crisis. A colleague came up with the ‘ventilation street’. “A terrible word,” says Peter, “but it works.”

Typically, a patient in distress will receive their ventilator directly at the emergency room, but that area should be thoroughly cleaned after each corona patient due to the risk of contamination. Therefore, breathing tubes are now being inserted into a specially adapted operating room.

Only after that do patients go to IC. “It is almost assembly line work. In this way we work faster and safer,” says Peter.

Emotionally heavy

Peter notices that he has started to get heavier emotionally in recent days. He had to tell the family of an older couple that IC recording no longer made sense. The husband and wife were seriously ill and would no longer get over the virus. Peter: “It is very difficult for me, you also know what awaits her.”

Now that peak traffic is expected next week, he also has the feeling that the best care may no longer be available for everyone. “I really like that.”

In the frontline

In the coming weeks, Peter will give us more frequent updates about him, along with other healthcare workers. You can find all our stories from the front line online here.

Small gestures

Peter is concerned that he will get corona himself. “My wife also works in a hospital, I am excited about what can happen to us.” That is why he makes videos of his work for his children. In it he mentions what touches him these days.

In his video diary, he tells not only about the days in the hospital, but also about the small gestures that touch him. “For example, someone put a bottle of champagne in my car, as a statement of support. My daughters prepare dinner and sometimes I get an unexpected cheer. Then I can really be quiet.”

“I have to radiate calm at work,” says Peter. That is why he keeps himself fit and sharp by exercising a lot. Like everyone, he now does this at home, for example on a rowing machine. “Then I clear my head.” The hospital provides support to employees who need it.

New energy

Peter gets new energy when he looks at the deployment of permanent and new colleagues. The Jeroen Bosch Hospital works with ‘buddies’. This concerns, for example, OR assistants and anesthetists who are now on the ICU. These colleagues are continuously supervised and managed by a permanent IC employee. “This way we can care for more patients,” says Peter. “We really do this together.”

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