Several rehab departments will be closed for a month or longer over the summer. This is bad news for those who struggle with addiction as well as their loved ones.
Summer closures at hospital rehab departments due to staff and funding shortages have been common for some years in Iceland. According to the National University Hospital, closures this summer are less extensive than last.
“You feel a bit like a broken record year after year talking about this but this is always equally serious and this is always equally bad for the patients and for the relatives of people who go there at the worst time in their lives,” Anna G. Ólafsdóttir, General Manager of the Icelandic Mental Health Alliance, told RÚV.
During the closures, those who need addiction treatment are sent to other hospital departments, where service is not the same. “Of course you ask yourself what the funding priorities are in one of the richest countries in the world when you always have to close the only emergency psychiatric ward every single summer,” Anna remarked. “Isn’t there four or five hundred million to keep it always open?”
Anna adds that rates of addiction are currently rising fastest among youth. The closures can have a serious negative impact on their recovery. “The consequences can become such that the problem becomes more complicated and difficult to deal with in the future. So this is a very bad situation.”