Watford have overhauled their Vicarage Road stadium to support their neighbours at Watford General Hospital through the coronavirus crisis.
The Hornets, who offered the use of their stadium to the hospital last month, have made a number of changes with the help of other local businesses to ensure that Watford General have all the space they need during the pandemic.
The executive boxes at the ground have been transformed into rooms for NHS staff to rest and recuperate during breaks, or to use while having to isolate away from family, with beds delivered from local hotels. The club have also handed over a number of meeting rooms within the stadium for consultations and are set to open a maternity outpatients unit within the stadium.
With such easy access to the hospital grounds via the Graham Taylor stand, the club are also using their kitchens and canteen to help feed the NHS staff based next door.
Hospital staff have been blown away by the efforts of the club, while chairman Scott Duxbury says life-president Sir Elton John “couldn’t be more proud” of his club.
“It is intense and emotionally draining,” said Theresa Maunganidze, a specialist surgical nurse. “Having that break, to come out here for fresh air, to come to a place that is not a hospital, to chat and laugh and share some experiences and reflect on the day, it has been amazing to have this facility.”
Duxbury said: “I speak to Elton regularly and he could not be more proud of the club. For him to see the values he and Graham [Taylor] set are very much alive and well is something he, and we, should be proud of.
“This reassures me that the values of the football club are stronger than ever. This is not a PR exercise – the staff here have worked really hard over the last two months to implement it. Words are easy, but everything we stand for as a club is being demonstrated.”
Watford are also using their on-site laundry facilities to help staff wash their scrubs (below), with two vans donated from local companies – one to ferry dirty scrubs to the ground and another to return them clean. Around 10,000 items have now been washed by the club.
Staff from the communications and digital departments have also joined the effort to help their neighbours, aiding them with marketing projects and even creating laminated name badges with pictures of each staff member on so they can be identified under all their personal protective equipment.