Nurse Felicia Burger traveled to St. Eustatius in September to assist in a corona ward. Last week she was transferred to Curaçao, where it seems that tourists have never left. “A crazy sensation.”
Covid nurse Felicia had been working on St. Eustatius for 2 months when the employment agency called her. ‘Tomorrow you will fly to Curaçao’, was the message. 41 employees of the hospital in Willemstad were at home because of corona infection. An untenable situation for the other staff.
Exception for Antilles
‘A bit bizarre’, she thinks the situation in Curaçao is, says Felicia. “On Statia, as St. Eustatius is called in the Caribbean, people were terrified of COVID-19. You could only get on or off the island when it was really necessary.” Logical too, says the nurse, because there is no IC capacity. The hospital is too small for that – in January 2019, 3,138 people lived on the island.
The atmosphere in Curaçao is different, Felica noticed when she arrived last week. Holidaymakers, especially people from the Netherlands, sit on the beach, without a mask or other protection. This has everything to do with the ‘urgent advice’ of Prime Minister Rutte and Minister De Jonge not to travel abroad until mid-January. Except for the Netherlands Antilles. When that became known, the number of bookings to Curaçao immediately increased. At that time code yellow applied there, on the other islands code orange.
Blow to the economy
“It gives a very mixed feeling that there are so many tourists on Curaçao”, says Felicia. “I love that carefree holiday atmosphere, I think we are all a little yearning for it at the moment. But that our prime minister says that we can safely go to the Antilles, while 41 hospital employees are at home in Curaçao alone because of corona. at least a little crazy. “
Among the islanders she speaks to, Felicia discovers little fear or grumpiness about the increase in tourists in recent weeks. And that is perhaps not surprising: since the start of the corona crisis, the economy of Curaçao has had a hard time. Hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers less came to the island. And that is a lot for the 160,000 inhabitants, of whom a significant part of tourism lives.
Not ready on Statia yet
Felicia has had her first days in the surgery department of the brand new Curaçao Medical Center. She still has to get used to it. Despite the fact that she sometimes worked nineteen shifts in a row, she really enjoyed herself on St. Eustatius.
“When I arrived at Statia with a few other colleagues last September, the healthcare staff were severely overworked. They had not had a day off since March and we were welcomed with open arms. And even now that Statia has been declared covid-free, still overdue work. After all, a lot of regular care has come to a standstill. ” She felt her work was not done at all.
Good to help
“On the other hand, I don’t want to pass up the opportunity to help in Curaçao. It is desperately needed there too.” Felicia treats both regular and COVID patients on Curaçao, well protected with a mouth mask and vest. She was flown in to make up for the great shortage of hospital staff. And that means more running than standing still, she laughs. “But despite the alarm clock that rings around 5 am every day, I like that I can do something.”
Because she works in the surgery department, and most people come there by appointment, the nurse herself sees few tourists. “But it is a fact that the emergency department is busy with it.”