Watford Football Club has teamed up with West Herts Hospital NHS Trust to offer a safe space for local hospital staff to recuperate and relax during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The facility, which is called ‘TeamWestHertsSanctuary’, is open to all staff at Watford General Hospital, including nurses, doctors, managers, cleaners and porters, as well as for other nearby frontline staff from hospitals in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. There is a free shuttle bus running between the three sites, allowing all surrounding hospital staff the opportunity to utilise this amazing service.
Since the facility was launched, Watford FC stadium is feeding on average 1,000 local hospital employees a day, has hosted over 200 hours’ worth of vital meetings, and has laundered more than 10,000 hospital scrubs.
Tweeting yesterday, the football club said: “It’s lunchtime at Vicarage Road! These heroes really deserve it! @WestHertsNHS.”
The staff is provided with a nutritionally balanced breakfast and lunch every day at no cost to themselves, as well as overnight accommodation when needed. There are also counselling rooms on offer for hospital employees that are struggling with the emotional trauma of the current pandemic and a memorial room for people who have lost a loved one.
Chief Executive Christine Allen said: “Watford General is only a few yards away, but the environment is so different and really seems to lift the mood. Of course, football fans want to see the pitch full of players, but for us, the empty green space has a very calming effect. And whilst our sole focus is our patients, the ability to get away makes all the difference.”
She added: “The demands on staff, especially those caring for our sickest patients, have been huge. Having a space to talk about the day or just sit and reflect after work and before going home can really help staff manage their stress. This, in turn, helps them provide the best care for our patients.”
The public response to this incredible act of generosity has been huge, with locals taking to social media to express their gratitude.
One user tweeted: “Graham Taylor will be looking down so proud the values he embedded at our club are still alive and well and shining through. Well done to Watford FC, an absolute credit.”
Another said: “WFC, you are the best club, this is brilliant. Well done to all involved.”
The hospital staff has also taken to posting pictures of themselves enjoying the space with one saying: “#afternightshift#WFC# WFC have been incredibly generous . . . couldn’t be much so prouder to be part of this generous community! Millions thank you community Watford and WFC.
The idea for the facility came about when the hospital requested to use the football club for meeting rooms to plan its response to the COVID-19 virus, but it soon became so much more, offering a true lifeline to local frontline staff when they needed it most.
The ‘Sanctuary’ is on offer to local hospital staff for at least the next month.