Three Wounded Following Knife Attack in Reykjavík Nightclub

Four people have been arrested following a physical altercation at a Reykjavík nightclub yesterday, RÚV reports. Three men in their early twenties, all of whom had suffered knife wounds, were transported to the ER.

Search warrants executed, four arrested

A group of men barged into the nightclub Bankstræti Club in downtown Reykjavík last night. The group, reportedly dressed in dark clothes, attacked three other men (all of whom are about twenty years old) before absconding from the club. The police were notified at just after 11.30 PM and arrived on the scene quickly, RÚV reports.

The police immediately began searching for the assailants, who are believed to have been inside the club briefly. Dozens of police officers were involved in the investigation and a few search warrants have already been executed.

The Capital Area Police, assisted by special forces, has stated that the investigation is a priority. Investigators aim to determine whether the assault was an act of revenge or a reckoning, RÚV reports. Most of the involved parties are believed to be Icelandic, although details currently remain unclear.

“The police were armed during yesterday’s operations, given the seriousness of the attack,” a statement by the police reads.

Patients Wait in Ambulances Due to Lack of Beds in ER

All of the beds in Landspítali’s emergency room at Fossvogur were full on Friday night, forcing patients to wait in ambulances until beds became available in the ER, RÚV reports.

According to the duty officer at the Metropolitan Fire Department, which also oversees capital-area ambulance transportation, it’s not unusual for patients to wait for a bed in the ER, although the duty officer was careful to say that Friday’s situation is not a common problem. Rather they stressed that paramedics provide patient care to those waiting to be admitted to the ER and room is always made for priority patients.

See Also: Mass Resignations at the University Hospital

Fourteen nurses resigned from the ER at the end of August, largely due to stress within the department.

According to Soffía Steingrímsdóttir, who was an ER nurse at the Landspítali for almost eight years, the resignations were “a long time coming. We’ve been trying to call attention to stressful work conditions and the threat to the safety of our patients for years now. Over these past two years, especially – when conditions have been unacceptable.”

At the time, hospital director Runólfur Pálsson said that hospital administrators would do everything in their power to reverse this trend. “The work conditions are extremely difficult. There’s a lot of stress, which means that people resign, which leads to staff shortages, which makes things even more difficult. It’s a vicious cycle that we’ve been trying to break.”

On Friday, nurse and assistant head of the ER Hildur Dís Kristjánsdóttir weighed in, saying the ER didn’t need to employ as many nurses as it previously did, as there are fewer patients being admitted on a regular basis.

As of September 1, the hospital’s stated goal is that no more than 20 patients should be in the ER at any one time.

Mass Resignations at the University Hospital

landspítali hospital

Fourteen emergency-room nurses completed their final shift at the National University Hospital of Iceland (Landspítali) yesterday, RÚV reports. The departures are “a cause for worry,” Director Runólfur Pálsson stated, although he remains confident that brighter days lie ahead.

“A long time coming”

Speaking to RÚV yesterday, Soffía Steingrímsdóttir, who’s been employed as an emergency room nurse at the National University Hospital (Landspítali) for almost eight years, explained why she and 14 of her colleagues had decided to quit their jobs:

“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been trying to call attention to stressful work conditions and the threat to the safety of our patients for years now. Over these past two years, especially – where conditions have been unacceptable.”

According to Soffía, the 14 nurses who completed their final shifts yesterday will not be easily replaced; experience and competence only come with time. A similar number of resignations are expected to be tendered next month.

Trying to break the vicious cycle

Speaking to RÚV, Runólfur Pálsson, Director of the National University Hospital, stated that hospital administrators would do everything in their power to reverse this trend. “The work conditions are extremely difficult. There’s a lot of stress, which means that people resign, which leads to staff shortages, which makes things even more difficult. It’s a vicious cycle that we’ve been trying to break.”

Runólfur stated that he was hopeful that resources designed for patients who have completed treatment at the hospital but cannot leave on account of disabilities would help lighten the load: “And we’ve been waiting for hospital and rehabilitation rooms, which we hope will be available in September. We have high expectations for these new facilities. They will help lighten the emergency room’s load.”

Soffía stated that the nurses were sad and disappointed that no measures were taken in response to their resignations: “I certainly hope that I haven’t completed my last shift at the emergency room, that I’ll return when an acceptable work environment has been created.”

Four Nurses Resign from Emergency Ward

Emergency room

Four nurses have resigned from their positions at the National Hospital’s Emergency Ward since yesterday, citing unacceptable working conditions and strain, RÚV reports. Ten other resignations took effect last March, and ER Department Head Helga Rósa Másdóttir says staffing shortages are already affecting the ward’s operations.

The emergency ward at Iceland’s National University Hospital has 30 beds. Nearly 100 patients were registered there yesterday, 33 of which should have been in other wards that could not admit them due to lack of space. Some patients waited over five hours for medical attention.

Such days have become the norm rather than the exception, according to Soffia Steingrímsdóttir, a nurse who resigned from the ER yesterday after seven years in the position. In a Facebook post, Soffia stated that she loves her job, but has given up hope that the situation at the ER will improve.

Cuts elsewhere impact emergency services

Helga Rósa told RÚV she is concerned it will be impossible to fully staff the ER this summer when many of its regular staff go on vacation. Staffing shortages are already affecting the department, which cannot utilise all of its space because it does not have enough staff to monitor the entire area. Helga says cuts elsewhere in the healthcare system come down on the ER, which ends up with patients on its hands that should be treated elsewhere but are turned away for lack of room.

Emergency ward staff have been vocal about the ward’s situation for years, stressing that staffing shortages and poor conditions put patients at risk. In 2019, a partial audit published by the Directorate of Health found neither lodging nor staffing conditions at the emergency ward fulfilled regulations and that the ward could not ensure patients’ rights regarding care. In the wake of the audit, the Director of Health recommended increasing staff at the ward, particularly nurses, as well as reviewing their wages and working conditions.

National Hospital Expects Continued Strain

Iceland National Hospital COVID-19

Intensive care units are at “a breaking point,” according to a memorandum sent to the Minister of Health from the National University Hospital on August 16. While the healthcare authorities believe the current wave of infections may have reached its peak, it is unlikely that the strain on the hospital will decrease for another two to three weeks.

Various measures have been implemented

According to a memorandum sent to the Minister of Health from Páll Matthíasson, Director of the National University Hospital, on August 16, the state of the hospital’s ICU and emergency room is dire; if the hospital’s most pessimistic forecast becomes a reality, it will be unable to respond to other emergencies that may occur, with staff exhaustion being a “real risk,” well. At the time that the memorandum was composed, 20 hospital employees were quarantining and a further 90 were self-isolating.

To accommodate the strain caused by the current wave of COVID-19 in Iceland, the country’s largest to date, the National University Hospital has implemented various measures. These include transferring patients out of the hospital to other healthcare institutions and calling in staff from summer vacations. The Ministry of Health has also contracted staff from private healthcare institutions in order to ease the strain on public healthcare staff.

Despite these measures, the hospital’s intensive care units are “more than full,” according to the memorandum. The biggest challenge in providing care is a shortage of trained staff, particularly anesthesiologists and intensive care nurses. The strain caused by the pandemic has also led to many elective surgeries being postponed. Not all patients waiting for such operations can wait indefinitely.

A high proportion of foreign tourists in intensive care

The recent increase in tourists arriving in Iceland has also affected the hospital, the memorandum notes: 15% of patients being monitored by the COVID-19 ward are foreign tourists, with 25-40% of patients in the ICU belonging to this group. The state of the ICU is currently the hospital’s biggest challenge, considering that is “that aspect of the hospital’s operations” that will most influence its ability to perform large, exigent elective surgeries.

The memorandum further highlights the recent strain on the hospital’s emergency room, in which those individuals arriving with COVID-like symptoms must be isolated until a diagnosis is at hand. This process greatly slows the transfer of individuals into and between the hospital’s inpatient units. Similarly, owing to the above-mentioned circumstances, patients (mainly those suffering from cardiac problems) are being transferred to inpatient units at a faster rate than normal. Under normal circumstances, these patients would be monitored in the emergency room for a longer period of time.

The memorandum concludes with the following plea: “It is imperative that the authorities implement all of the necessary societal measures in order to reduce the strain on the hospital.”

Icy Conditions Send Over Two Dozen to Emergency Room

Since yesterday evening, over two dozen people have visited the emergency room at the National University Hospital of Iceland owing to icy conditions in the Greater Reykjavík Area, RÚV reports.

According to Jón Magnús Kristjánsson – Chief Emergency Physician at the National University Hospital of Iceland – the first patients that visited the ER on account of ice-related injuries arrived at around 8 PM yesterday. The hospital warns of long waits and points to local health centres, as well as Læknavaktin (a medical service provider operating outside working hours).

“Beginning yesterday evening, approximately 15 individuals sought assistance at the ER. Since 7 AM this morning there have also been several injuries. We’ve probably treated about 10 or 15 patients today,” Jón Magnús stated.

Injuries among emergency-room patients have varied: “We’re seeing all kinds of fractures, whether to wrists, shoulders, or ankles. Some have suffered only bruises or scrapes.” Jón Magnús recommends that pedestrians wear crampons.

Asked whether patients were of all ages, Jón Magnús replied in the affirmative. “Yes, we’re seeing people of all ages, very few children, but adults of all ages.”

According to the Icelandic Met Office, icy conditions are likely to persist tomorrow, especially in Southwest Iceland. “Temperatures will remain close to 0. Rain falling on frozen ground makes for slippery conditions, just like this morning. Temperatures are expected to rise over the next 24 hours; however, there is a high probability that icy conditions will persist, especially in the Greater Reykjavík Area,” writes meteorologists Þorsteinn V. Jónsson.