Hospitals In Crisis: Health Minister Seeks Private Sector, Hospital Director Wants Promises Kept

Hospitals In Crisis: Health Minister Seeks Private Sector, Hospital Director Wants Promises Kept

Published August 18, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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A staffing shortage at Landspítali hospital, exacerbated by the pandemic, has prompted Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir to begin negotiations with a private labour rental company abroad in order to meet the demand, Vísir reports.

Some patients have been moved to other capital area health clinics for treatment in order to lighten the load at Landspítali. While this has provided some alleviation, hospital management says that they are grateful for the help but that it is not enough.

The pandemic has hit the intensive care unit especially hard. Staff shortages are significant, and there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how Landspítali can care for these patients, or for now long.

“We’ve received four nurses and an anesthesiologist to help us, which makes a big difference and we are very grateful for this,” director of the operating rooms and intensive care unit Ólaf G. Skúlason told reporters. “However, we have to admit that in order to staff the intensive care ward in its current situation, we need about 100 people each day to care for these patients. So we need to seek other solutions.”

RÚV reports that the director of Landspítali and the chairman of the hospital’s epidemic committee submitted a memo to the Health Minister detailing the current situation. While they believe that the Delta variant wave has peaked, they do not believe that matters will get better within the next two weeks.

This memo provided recommendations on how they think authorities should respond to the crisis, including that the government stand by their promises.

“We recommend that the government fulfill the promise it made at a press conference on August 6th to strengthen the hospital with an intensive care unit and an infectious disease ward and so on, in addition to which we have a call to find ways to reduce infections as much as possible in the community,” Már Kristjánsson, the chairman of the hospital’s epidemic committee, told reporters.

The government has in fact only fulfilled part of its promises from that time. The additional intensive care unit has yet to materialise, and hospital staff are growing increasingly overworked and worried. The coming days and weeks will show whether bringing temporary hospital staff from abroad will alleviate the pressure.

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