ISUtrecht school parents fighting COVID-19
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ISUtrecht school parents fighting COVID-19

School parent Oded Yoseph is Head of Technologies and Products at ScanModul in Houten, a company supplying hospitals with medical logistics equipment, while Erzsébet Versteeg is a nurse at the Lung Diseases Department of the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). Both Oded and Erzsébet were willing to share their experiences fighting COVID-19 while at the same time supporting their children with online learning.

By Ingrid Schmoutziguer, communications, pictures from ScanModule and LUMC

‘This is the most challenging time in my life’, says Oded, father of Adam (grade 6), Yotam (grade 2) and Yoav (KGY). ‘His company supplies hospitals in Europe, but also further afield in North America, Asia and the Middle East with medical logistics equipment (think storage and transport of blood samples, or dispense units for gloves and face masks). ‘I am working long days, evenings, weekends, but I am also trying to support my partner who also works and our children. Especially the youngest two are too young to do their online learning independently.’

Extra wards for COVID-19 patients

Normally the company Oded works for gets orders from hospitals who want to extend or upgrade their facilities. ‘We get these orders well in time for us to supply the products when they are needed’, Oded explains. ‘Over the past 6 weeks we received a great number of very large emergency orders from hospitals who are building extra wards and facilities for COVID-19 patients. Whereas normally it takes a couple of months to supply these kinds of orders, we now try and do this in a week.’

While the demand for their products has risen enormously (they produce 5 times more now than they did 2 months ago) the company is trying to do this with less people on their assembly lines in Houten. ‘In order to protect our workers we now work in two 6-hour shifts to minimize contact between our workers’, says Oded. ‘This means I work from home in the morning, trying to support both my wife and children, while I manage our facilities in Houten in the afternoon and early evening.’ He hopes schools will reopen soon. ‘Especially for the younger children. That would make a real difference!’

Strict hygiene precautions at LUMC

Erzsébet Versteeg (mother of Christiaan (obtained his IB Diploma in 2018), Sandra (grade 12) and Judith (grade 11) has worked in various hospitals for the past 30 years. She currently works as an oncology nurse and student nursing practitioner at the Leiden University Medical Centre. ‘At this moment I am not (yet) treating COVID-19 patients directly, but I am in close contact with doctors and nurses in the lung diseases center who are subject to direct contact. Strictly adhering to hygiene precautions is therefore essential’, she says.

We need to support each other

Erzsébet: ‘We also have arranged to keep the regular lung disease department separated from the COVID-19 patient streams. Further we have split and rescheduled our team into three shifts which are not meeting each other during the week. Both ourselves (personal safety and ensuring sufficient healthcare capacity) and the often quite fragile patients (patient safety and risk of complications) need to be protected as much as possible’. Besides her hours at the hospital, Erzsébet also spends a lot of time in online meetings, app-groups and on the phone to make sure that everyone is up to speed with the huge amount of ‘COVID19 related information about treatments, IC normal ward capacities, hospital policies and medical research’. On a more personal level, quite some phone calls are exchanged within my team’ she says, as ‘We all try to reach out when we need support or offer support to someone in the team.’

Non-COVID-19 patients

Besides from worrying about the spread of COVID-19, Erzsébet also worries about non-COVID-19 patients. ‘ They are somewhat neglected and getting less attention compared to corona’, Erzsébet says. ‘A lot of things need to be arranged for patients facing postponements in their regular (and much needed) treatments.  Also limited possibilities for visiting their medical expert have impact and leave people with questions that need an answer.’

When asked about finding a balance between increased work demands and family life she says: ‘Luckily our three children are old enough to manage themselves quite well. And with regard to the attention we need to give as parents we have been able to share this together in a good way. We still need to get used a bit to the online schoolings being flawlessly alternated with activities at home and online with friends during the breaks and free hours. And our internet connection has basically become a sort of a lifeline’.

We all need to continue to stick to the rules

For Erzsébet it is vital that we keep adhering to the contamination prevention policies. Especially ‘when the lockdown measures will be eased a bit in the near future’, she warns. ‘False positivism and downplaying the risks of the virus is a trap we easily step into, but this does come with a risk of new contaminations. Continued awareness is and remains therefore paramount.’