As a military nurse on the IC: ‘Fight against invisible enemy’. Tjardo, 34, is a military nurse and has been working in the intensive care unit of the emergency hospital in Utrecht since Monday. Together with 55 fellow nurses and ten doctors of Defense, they fight against this “invisible enemy”.
Tjardo is one of the 265 military personnel who, on behalf of Defense, provide support in healthcare institutions spread across the Netherlands. In a short time he exchanged the ‘green’ for the protective clothing that comes with working on the IC with people who have contracted COVID-19.
In March he was still training with his unit in Texas, USA. The circumstances of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak caused the exercise to be terminated and for him to return to the Netherlands.
Once back, he was told to stand by because of possible medical support somewhere in the Netherlands. Tjardo has been employed since 2005 and has been a military nurse since 2014. His help could therefore be badly needed to spare the scarce IC staff.
Utrecht has a specially set up emergency hospital
More than a week later, he was told that he would be stationed in the emergency hospital in Utrecht. It is a fully operational hospital that normally provides short-term trauma relief. It is now a place that is expanding the capacity of the UMC Utrecht with 19 IC beds.
After a short tour and catching up on what was expected of him, he has completed three evening shifts since Monday.
“A completely different branch of sport,” said Tjardo. Although he served twice in Mali and on Sint Maarten, just after Hurricane Irma, working on the IC is new. However, as a soldier he is used to responding quickly to new situations. “I let it all come over me,” he is level-headed.
Talk of relative peace
And although the battle is hardest on the IC where the sickest patients are, according to Tjardo there is relative peace alternated with an occasional hectic moment. “But there is an overview and a good working atmosphere.”
According to Tjardo, this is partly due to the flexibility of the “civilian colleagues”, as he calls it. The employees of the UMC are now dealing with military colleagues in a different environment and ditto equipment. “However, we radiate peace to each other,” he refers to the mutual cooperation.
In his role as a nurse, Tjardo takes care of and monitors the bedridden and patients who have always been kept in artificial sleep and implements the drawn up treatment plan together with the civilian IC colleagues. Above him is someone from the hospital, who is again accountable to a manager.
The collaboration between Defense and hospitals is not new. There are twelve so-called relationship hospitals where people from the armed forces invariably work. In return, these healthcare institutions will again supply doctors who will be sent on an assignment.
From fictional to invisible enemy
In just over a week, Tjardo switched from fighting a fictional enemy in America to a disaster hospital in Utrecht where the battle rages against “invisible enemy” COVID-19, “which we as a team try to do the maximum against. That is what we can deliver right now “.