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HUS emergency rooms overflow amid heatwave

Helsinki University Hospital District says some patients have waited in emergency rooms for days to see a doctor.

The very young and elderly can be vulnerable to heat-related problems. Image: Karoliina Simoinen / Yle

The heatwave combined with a shortage of nurses is causing long queues throughout units of Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS).

Unless it's an emergency, HUS' head of EMS services, Maaret Castrén, is urging people to phone HUS' helpline before seeking medical attention at the district's emergency clinics.

She said emergency units are currently severely understaffed in proportion to the number of arriving patients.

Castrén told Yle that significant queues have formed at emergency clinics, with some people waiting for days to see a doctor. People with chronic conditions, the elderly and young children have been particularly affected by the persistent heatwave.

She noted that HUS has faced a nursing shortage since the spring, and bottlenecks have formed in transferring patients from emergency units to city hospitals.

To alleviate the situation, HUS emergency departments are offering patients medical vouchers they can use to access care from private providers.

"All patients coming into the ER now—no matter how minor the issue—are straining an already overburdened system," Castrén said.

To cope with the hot weather, HUS is encouraging people to do their best to protect themselves from the sun, stay cool indoors and drink plenty of fluids.

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