The Declining Census
In previous posts, I've discussed staffing issues where I work. Those problems continue. So does the return of the frequent flyer. Now we have something even more troubling. Our census continues to drop. The facility is at one-tenth of its capacity. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight. As of the time I left work this afternoon, no admissions were expected.
I've worked in many facilities. They've handled census drops in various ways. At the "evil empire," we were so busy that a census drop meant a day when we didn't feel overwhelmed before starting. Other places cut support staff hours. No matter where I was, eliminating prn hours was the first response. Full-time staff was encouraged to keep busy and go home if there was nothing to do.
Today I was told our hours will be cut if the census doesn't improve. Increasing treatment durations is not an acceptable option. We can do that, but will still need to leave early. At the same time, a lot of things need to be done that aren't specifically patient care. When we're busy, we don't have the time. Now we'll have the time but not the opportunity.
Remember, like many facilities, staff has been cut to the bare minimum. There are always complaints about how long it takes for a bed pan, pain medicine or just about anything else. Obviously we aren't the only department feeling the pinch. But wouldn't it be nice if, instead of sending everyone home and cutting hours, the facility allowed enough staff to answer call bells or whatever else patients need instead of making them wait even longer?