nurses coming, hospital will reopen beds
By Matt Kelly
Medical Center may have turned the corner on the nursing shortage.
the staffing problem is long-range, with the peak crisis projected
to be around 2008, warned Pam Cipriano, chief clinical officer
for the Health System. The
Medical Center will need to rethink and redesign the workplace,
as well as job duties and salaries.
Board of Visitors Health
Affairs Committee, which met May 10, reviewed plans for increased
nurse staffing and the budgetary implications.
said 60 new nurses have been hired, 20 of them coming from the
Universitys Nursing School. She told the board that there
would be increased staffing costs for several months as the new
nurses are brought into the system and overlap with the temporary
and traveling nurses, whose contracts expire in the fall.
the additional nurses, the Health System plans to reopen 23 beds
by the end of May. Chief Financial Officer Larry Fitzgerald said
this would mean an additional 65 patient visits per bed annually,
bringing in an additional $800,000 per bed per year revenue. The
hospital had closed 17 beds due to staffing shortages and 30 for
noted a fluidity in the nursing numbers, since while they are
recruiting additional nurses, there is attrition as nurses leave
new nurses should eventually reduce the centers dependence
on overtime, temporary workers and traveling nurses, but Cipriano
also stressed that steps had to be taken to retain nurses through
higher pay and better benefits, improvements in the workplace,
continuing education, advancement and other incentives. She noted
that in surveys nurses have complained of feeling overwhelmed
and overworked and of being verbally abused in the workplace.
the Medical Centers is thought of as the best place to care for
patients, it also needs to be thought of as a pleasing place to
work, she said. The Health System is planning incentives, such
as bonuses and programs to honor specific departments within the
Thomas Massaro, chief of staff of the Health System, said outside
doctors who have been trying to direct patients to the hospital
have become frustrated with the lack of available beds but he
said he is beginning to see some turnaround. These doctors realize
the hospital is working on the problem, he said. Pharmacies are
being reorganized with 11 new pharmacists being hired, which allows
medicine dispensing to go back to the treatment units.
W.Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer,
cautioned the board that while the situation has improved, the
administration should not be complacent. He said the nursing shortage
has forced the Medical Center to think outside the box,
but the problem is not licked yet.
Christopher Alexander, a public member of the Health Affairs Committee,
advised the board to invest in other employees, such as housekeeping
staff, since the nurses should not be spending their time performing