The request from Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) to receive asylum seekers in hospitals falls flat in our province. All hospitals have announced that they have no room.
With winter approaching and a dire lack of shelters in mind, the federal government has taken action to accommodate as many asylum seekers as possible. Two weeks ago, Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) wrote to all hospitals in our country asking whether they could make room to accommodate these people for a maximum of six months. These places must be separated from normal patient care, in unused corridors, wings or buildings.
So far, about eighty places have been found, Marcel Van der Auwera, head of the Emergency Medical and Psychosocial Assistance department at the public health service, told Radio 1.
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The response to the minister’s question has therefore so far been rather tepid. And there is certainly no enthusiasm for it in the province of Antwerp. All hospitals in the province have informed us that they cannot respond to Vandenbroucke’s request. From the two large hospital networks in the city and outskirts, ZNA and GZA, over the hospital network of the Kempen (Mol, Geel, Herentals and Turnhout) to the hospitals in the south of the province (Mechelen, Bonheiden, Bornem and Lier). Each of them points to the increasing crowds in the winter months and the lack of capacity. They need all the places for planned and acute care.
The idea that was circulating – and did not come from Minister Vandenbroucke himself – to accommodate asylum seekers in the recently closed Stuivenberg Hospital in North Antwerp was immediately resoundingly suppressed by the city. The site is not eligible at all, according to the city council. It is not surprising that only just over 90% of the contents have been auctioned.
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