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Toni Talks about PT Today

Working on a Holiday

Published July 5, 2011 3:24 PM by Toni Patt

I always joke with friends that holidays are the easiest days to work. No one wants to come to the hospital. There is a skeleton staff and only a few doctors. I don't have much trouble getting through my list because I'm not competing with several other services for the same patients. We're more concerned with seeing patients than what everyone else is doing.

In most areas that means less staff is available to treat patients. The problem is, with the exception of major holidays, the number of patients doesn't change. If anything, it goes up. More patients with less staff is not a good combination. When the holiday falls on a Monday as the 4th has, the problem is compounded by two days of decreased staffing for a weekend.

I don't understand how this is acceptable. Any other day, the emphasis is on getting patients seen as efficiently as possible. Come Tuesday there will be many unhappy physicians and case managers because patients weren't seen and discharges delayed.

Obviously you can't force people to work, particularly on holidays. Nor is this a problem in outpatient settings. SNFs have some leeway because reimbursement is based on total minutes per time frame. A day can be missed and made up later. A lost day is less detrimental to SNF patients because they tend to be less acute and have longer stays.

There is no perfect answer to this. It may take a paradigm shift for any real change to occur. Holidays only occur a few times a year so in the big scheme of things, the missed treatments are insignificant. The patients who are missed might feel differently. We try to prioritize and do the best we can.

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