Bed shortage plagues hospital

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A lack of beds and staff earlier this month forced Medical College of Georgia Hospitals and Clinics to cancel surgeries one day and has kept the hospital from accepting any transfer patients to its intensive care unit so far this week.

While officials promised Wednesday to open up beds and add staffing to meet the need as an immediate response, the chief nursing officer thinks it may be part of a trend caused by aging baby boomers.

At an executive committee meeting of the board of MCG Health Inc., which runs the hospitals and clinics, administrators also complained of deep and sustained cuts in federal and state supplemental payments.

"We will have a $14 million cut," said CEO Don Snell, from about $26 million to $12 million in payments designed to help make up for the cost of teaching and for treating large volumes of indigent and Medicaid patients.

The cuts are deep enough to wipe out any expected gains from a more robust volume, he said.

Beginning around mid-February, the hospital saw a leap in volume from its average daily census of 300 to 320 to more than 400 on some days, forcing the hospital to turn away some patients at least 10 times, said Sandra McVicker, senior vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer.

"I'm not able to accept that patient because I don't have beds and staff, I don't have the staff to take care of one more person in a bed," she said. Because there were not enough beds to take them, 12 elective surgeries were canceled March 13.

For the year to date, the hospital is about $862,000 below budget on wages and salaries.

"In other words, we're staffed very tightly," said Chief Financial Officer Dennis R. Roemer.

"There's no room to go there," said MCG President Daniel W. Rahn, a member of MCG Health's board. "That's the main thing that I think we're all wrestling with. I think we're already as efficient as we can get."

The hospital will add 12 medical/surgical beds, eight ICU beds and a 20-bed unit for admission, discharges or transfers to help free up beds.

Though Mr. Snell referred to them as temporary measures, Mrs. McVicker thinks it is a long-term trend fed by aging baby boomers. One of the bigger categories of patients feeding the increase are those ages 55 to 65, she said.

"We're starting to see the tip of that iceberg here," Mrs. McVicker said.

University Hospital experienced shortages of intensive care and monitored beds earlier this month, and officials there think they may have the same culprit.

"It wasn't really related to any kind of flu or virus outbreak, it was more related to the complications of the aging population," spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 03/29/07 - 04:51 am
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I want to make one thing

I want to make one thing perfectly clear to the readers of this article. Please do not have pity for the administrators of this hospital, or any local hospital, because they are struggling to meet these needs. First of all, "they" are NOT the one's struggling...it is the nurses and the other staff who are working their butts off and constantly being short-staffed for the number of patients they are taking care of. Don't forget, folks, these patients are YOUR family members and friends! President Rahn said that they are "as efficient as we can get", which really means that they have juggled the staffing to make 1 nurse take care of as many as 10 or more patients at a time. This type of staffing makes the nurse do much more than they can possibly and safely keep up with! Ask any nurse and they'll tell you exactly that! All this belt-tightening means is that the rich are able to keep the money that is coming in. Budget cuts? That tells the nurse and staff that their jobs may be cut so that the adminstrators can keep making their salaries. Don't believe me? Again, ask any nurse or staff member. Don't ask an administrator...they'll just tell you they're being more efficient!

kudzo-n-roses
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kudzo-n-roses 03/29/07 - 05:49 am
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I believe you....I have no

I believe you....I have no use for administrators and such..I feel for the nurses who are struggling.....I am now in the process of watching my mother die in a hospice facility in Florida and the nurses and staff there are wonderful....through out this entire ordeal starting with a heart attack a month ago to this final stage the nurses and doctors were so wonderful and my heart goes out to all who TRY to help the elderly and sick and have to bow down to these money hungry business people who only care for the profit.

georgia girl1
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georgia girl1 03/29/07 - 08:50 am
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True, true, true! I was a

True, true, true! I was a patient at MCG Sports Clinic, and was lied to, cheated, and stolen from. It's all about the money. I was pushed to have surgery on my second visit. A second opinion from a world class facility in Atlanta said not now, lets get you in better condition for surgery. Now, 3 months later, I am doing much better. I will need surgery, but in the fall. In the meantime, the lies were all about withholding information from me so I'd not know the real costs - well, now I do. Lies and deceptive practices are not a good way to run a hospital or clinic. Katurah, you're in on the conspiracy. You must be one of the ones getting paid the big bucks to lie, cheat and decieve - worst of all, you claim to be helping. Yep, you are - helping to lie, cheat and steal. That would not make your mother proud.

september 5th
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september 5th 03/29/07 - 11:47 am
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buckydawg, you need a new

buckydawg, you need a new job! also wonder where the money for the new mcg in athens is supposed to come from?

Augusta Mom
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Augusta Mom 03/29/07 - 02:41 pm
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If the budget is so "tight"

If the budget is so "tight" at MCG why don't some of those top administrators take a few salary-cuts...or at least not take their annual bonuses. I guessing any operations that move to the Athens area will receive immediate top funding. I'm telling you...Sonny Perdue is a DOG. I cannot believe I voted for him.

Augusta Mom
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Augusta Mom 03/29/07 - 02:41 pm
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If the budget is so "tight"

If the budget is so "tight" at MCG why don't some of those top administrators take a few salary-cuts...or at least not take their annual bonuses. I guessing any operations that move to the Athens area will receive immediate top funding. I'm telling you...Sonny Perdue is a DOG. I cannot believe I voted for him.

marchhare
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marchhare 03/29/07 - 03:59 pm
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i was told in jan 2007 if i

i was told in jan 2007 if i did not have $276.00 i could not see a specialiost. i know mr.snell does not have meetings everyday and at everytime of the day when i try to reach him to get assistance. he must be in a meeting with his broker to help make the people pay for his substanance and be flat broke. could this be why his staff feels like they want to do munity on the bounty? also watch tv ads, referring this is where family can be involved with care. well they have to because they don't have the staff due to understaffing and overpopulated pt levels.nurses and mds have voiced their opinions to the state level as well to medical borads. the higher ups believe in malpracytice insurance. the insurance does not cover courtieus competant care, or human interactions.i wonder what would happen if they became a pt in their facilty. i can assure they would break their necks to make sure they would have one on one care. trust me.

Does_it_really_matter
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Does_it_really_matter 03/30/07 - 08:52 am
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Heaven help us all....the

Heaven help us all....the nurses get run into the ground and the administators keep getting bonuses. Just remember that when you are a patient lying there in the bed, waiting forever for a nurse that has 10 plus other patients. It's not the nurses fault! Just once I would love for managers and administration to leave thier offices and shadow a nurse/PCA/CNA. Then they will know what real work is and I doubt that they will sleep well after that....wondering how thier budget cuts affects others so that they can continue to collect the the big salaries and bonuses. Or better yet, let the higher ups be a patient in thier own facilities!

Does_it_really_matter
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Does_it_really_matter 03/30/07 - 08:56 am
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They should rename the

They should rename the article , "Salary shortage of nurses and ancillary staff at area hospitals keep nurses looking for new careers".

nurseratchet
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nurseratchet 03/30/07 - 10:41 am
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When the administrators at

When the administrators at MCG need medical care, they don't go to MCG. They go to the other local hospitals. MCG is in trouble. Just ask anybody that works there.

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