In the wake of media reports that the Icelandic Hringur Children’s Hospital lacks critical care services, Baugur Group CEO Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, his father and sister have donated ISK 300 million to the hospital.
Last week, NFS television program Kompás showed footage of a father describing the tragic experience of having his child die in his arms while running from the Children’s Hospital to the intensive care unit next door. According to new station NFS, 70 children are transported annually from the Children’s Hospital to the intensive care unit at Landspítali University Hospital.
According to the Baugur web site, the donation is for use in “in fortifying the critical care services rendered by the hospital”. The endowment will be paid over the next 5 years, ISK 60 million annually.
Baugur CEO’s father, Jóhannes Jónsson, told web portal Vísir: “We decided to do this now because of the warmth and the goodwill that the public has shown us for the last few years in our struggle.”
The District Court of Reykjavík recently acquitted the Baugur family of fraud charges.
Baugur is the largest shareholder in the holding company Dagsbrún which owns web portal Vísir and news station NFS.
Before the announcement of Baugur’s endowment was made, Iceland’s new Minister of Health and Social Security, Siv Fridleifsdóttir, told Althingi that children’s critical care services were not a priority at the hospital.
Employees at the Children’s Hospital who wished to remain anonymous told NFS that it was misleading to blame the hospital. Two years ago, cost cuts were made that were so severe that the average level of service had deteriorated below acceptable standards. They said that the prioritization had to be seen within that context.
It costs ISK 60 million annually to operate a room for critical care services at the hospital annually.