A transitional care centre formed a ‘link’ (an intermediate step) between the hospital and a return to living independently. These centres were set up to maintain sufficient capacity in the hospitals. The transitional care centres provided support to patients testing positive for COVID-19. The patients in these centres:
- were previously hospitalised;
- or were previously examined in a triage and testing centre or an emergency department where it was decided that admission to hospital was not necessary.
However, these patients were either found to be unable to comply with the strict rules of isolation, hygiene and keeping away from high-risk individuals when they would return to their normal living situation. Or these patients still needed specific care. For these reasons, they could be admitted to a transitional care centre for a stay of up to three weeks. There, they could recover and receive the necessary care and support before returning home.
The transitional care centres were staffed by (general) practitioners, nurses and healthcare assistants, and financed by the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI). The federated states were responsible for providing the necessary additional support. To this end, they developed partnerships with the social services of the municipalities or the ‘Social Work’ departments of various health insurance funds.
In the period from 2 April 2020 to 30 May 2021 a total of 18 transitional care centres were opened. These 18 centres received 605 patients (476 in Flanders and 129 in Wallonia). The operation differed in duration of the opening period of the centres, but also in number of patients. Some centres only treated 4 or 5 patients, while one centre received 123 patients. The activity of the centres was concentrated in two periods: from April to May 2020, and from November 2020 to May 2021.