Thirty Nurses Laid Off, 24-Hour Medical Consultation Hotline to be Handed Over to Receptionists

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All thirty nurses working for Læknavaktin were laid off at the end of May, RÚV reports. Læknavaktin has been responsible for not only providing after-hours medical care in the capital area, but its nurses also staff a free, 24-hour phone line for the whole country. Starting September 1, phone consultations will be handled by receptionists at Heilsugæslan health clinics in Reykjavík, a change that Elva Björk Ragnarsdóttir, director of nursing at Læknavaktin, believes will have an adverse effect on the services provided.

Nurses at Læknavaktin have been available 24-hours a day to patients all over the country via the 1770 phone line. Currently, anyone who calls this free number is able to speak to a Læknavaktin nurse who will help them assess the severity of their situation and offer advice on how to address the matter, be that to visit a local health care clinic during business hours, go directly to a hospital emergency room, or, in certain circumstances, receive a house call from a physician.

The decision to have receptionists at the capital’s health care clinics handling these phone consultations rather than trained healthcare professionals strikes Elva Björk as a misstep.

“I mean, around 80-90% of the calls we get here need an education in healthcare to address,” she said. “The [1770] phone number has become increasingly well-known—people know they can call here, which is a good thing in many ways, because often, we can prevent unnecessary visits to the ER and the children’s ER and to Læknavaktin here.”

See also: Four Nurses Resign from Emergency Ward

The change in service will ultimately have the greatest impact on people living outside of the capital area, where healthcare services are not generally available outside of business hours.

“In that the Heilsugæslan health care clinics do not appear to be fully staffed during daytime hours, it doesn’t make sense to me to be taking on a 24-hour service that in reality, you need nurses to oversee,” said Elva Björk.

Asked if she thought services to public would deteriorate as a result of these changes, Elva Björk didn’t hesitate: “Yes, I would say so, if it’s going to be set-up the way it’s been presented to me.”

In Focus: Relocating Reykjavík Airport

Reykjavík City Airport flugvöllur

BackgroundThe dispute over the location of the Reykjavík City Airport is nearly as old as the airport itself. An agreement has now been made to move it from its current location in Vatnsmýri and build a residential development in its place – but a new location for the airport is yet to be determined.The airport […]

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New Designer Shopping and Dining Centre Hafnartorg Gallery to Open Downtown

Downtown is about to get another designer facelift. Vísir reports that 11 new shops and restaurants, all of which will be housed in the newly anointed Hafnartorg Gallery, are expected to open in the next five weeks. The gallery is located between Arnarhóll and the Kolapórtið flea market and its opening signals the long-awaited conclusion to more than decade’s worth of development between the Harpa Concert Hall and Lækjartorg.

See Also: Sizeable Hotel Rises Beside Harpa

Downtown Reykjavík has been under near-constant construction since ground was first broken on Harpa in 2007. (After the Icelandic economy collapsed in 2008, construction halted on Harpa—and in Iceland in general—until the government decided to step in and fund the building’s completion, making it the only active construction project in Iceland for several years following the crash.) In recent years, this harbourside district has added high-end apartment buildings, a luxury hotel, a pedestrian mall, and a variety of shops. And the end is finally in sight: after Hafnartorg Gallery opens, Landsbankinn’s new building is the area’s last major construction project. It’s set to be completed by the end of the year. 

See Also: Iceland University of the Arts to Receive Permanent Home

Finnur Bogi Hannesson, who works for the real estate firm Reginn and acts as Hafnartorg’s development manager, says the all-indoor gallery will be easily accessible in inclement weather from the 1,100-car underground garage, and will also have entrances on several surrounding streets. He says that most of the restaurants are on pace to open slightly ahead of the stores, but the goal is for everything to open by early July.

The gallery will house the largest 66° North in Iceland, as well as the country’s first North Face location, the lifestyle store Casa, an 80-seat fine dining restaurant focused on contemporary Franco-Italian cooking, and seven smaller restaurants catering to a range of tastes. In the end, Hafartorg will be home to a total of 30 shops and restaurants.