Watford have offered the use of their Vicarage Road stadium to the nearby hospital to help them battle the coronavirus pandemic.
The Hornets’ home is in close proximity to Watford General Hospital and, with football postponed until April 30 at the earliest, the Premier League club are set to open up the ground for a range of NHS purposes.
“We need to forget football right now and concentrate on doing all we can to support the NHS and, in particular, Watford General Hospital,” Watford chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury said in a joint statement announcing the move.
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“Our proximity as a football club next door to a hospital puts us in a great position to offer help and we’re keen to do whatever we possibly can to support NHS staff and their families.”
Vicarage Road is now set to host NHS staff inductions, offer spaces for urgent meetings, childcare facilities and warehouse space.
“The UK Government’s message has been about doing ‘whatever it takes’. Likewise, we’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ here at Vicarage Road to offer our fullest support to the NHS and its people at a time when it’s clearly needed most,” Duxbury added.
The gesture has been acknowledged by the hospital, with Christine Allen – the chief executive of West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust praising Watford for their support.
“Right now, we are doing all we can to make sure we can focus on caring for our sickest patients. We have found ourselves needing extra space very quickly,” she said.
“For example, we are running refresher training to our clinical staff so that they can care for patients with breathing difficulties.
“And we also need more space so that we can stick to important guidance about social distancing for our staff induction sessions and for key meetings when we need our senior leadership teams around the table.
“The club’s support is helping us to run our organisation safely and we are very grateful for their support at this challenging time.”