Brand-new hospital already full

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Even as King Harald was taking part in the official opening ceremonies of Norway’s newest hospital in Sarpsborg, southeastern Norway, staff had to resort to placing patients in the corridors. All the rooms were already full.

The brand-new Sykehuset Østfold at Kalnes, just outside Sarpsborg, has been billed as not only Norway’s most modern, but also the only hospital in the country to offer private rooms to all patients. Patients normally have to share rooms at other hospitals in Norway, often four to a room, and hospitals have also had to place patients in corridors for years because of space shortages. Things were supposed to be different in Sarpsborg.

They weren’t. Patient Hans Ludvigsen told state broadcaster NRK, for example, that he and several others were placed in the brightly lit corridors. “There was one (bed) in front of me and three behind me, five all together,” Ludvigsen said. “It was not comfortable and the alarms go all night long. There wasn’t much sleep.”

The monarch and his entourage from the state visited some patients in their rooms but reportedly didn’t see any of those in the corridors. Tore Krogstad, deputy director of the hospital that cost NOK 6 billion (USD 700 million) to build, confirmed capacity was exceeded after just a few weeks of initial operations. “There are many patients here now, and therefore we have to place some of them temporarily in the corridor,” Krogstad told NRK. “We maintain that this won’t be the norm here, but the situation has made it necessary.”

Ludvigsen said the staff did the best they could under the circumstances, but both he and his wife were disappointed after their first meeting with the facility. “You certainly don’t have any privacy,” his wife told NRK. “You feel very much like you’re in the way.”

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