“If we want to be better prepared for a second wave of the novel coronavirus, we need to learn lessons from the past months,” said Dr. Bertrand Draguez, president of MSF-Belgium and coordinator of the intervention.
Nursing homes were neglected as Belgian authorities focused solely on preserving hospital capacity because they feared hospitals would be overwhelmed like what happened in Italy and Spain. These homes suffered from a lack of protective equipment, materials, staff, and expertise to fight the pandemic. Consequently, residents paid a high price; by the end of June, 6,200 care home residents had died of COVID-19, which is 64 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Belgium.
“At the time we did our assessments in care homes, only 54 percent of them had sufficient personal protective equipment," said Stéphanie Goublomme, who managed MSF’s care home project in Belgium. "We found 64 percent lacked proper face masks, and only 42 percent of the staff doing laundry had access to proper protective equipment.”
More than half of the nursing homes we assessed said their staff didn’t have sufficient knowledge about the disease and the risk of infection.