Former employee disagrees with hospital administrators
An article in the South Pittsburgh Reporter regarding the closing of South Side Hospital (UPMC plans to keep some services available at South Side hospital, Dec. 29, 2008) recently came to my attention and I have a few comments.
First of all, I am a former employee of UPMC South Side's Emergency Room.
As far as the comment of patient care becoming a "challenge," I would strongly disagree. I feel that the team that I worked with for almost four years is one of the most competent group of people in medicine. Yes, there were situations that the hospital itself was not equipped to deal with that patients needed to be transferred to other facilities, but those challenges were met with speed and competence.
The "very complex" patients that we care for in that hospital are having the same health problems now that we as medical professionals have seen, and will continue to see for years to come. The appeal of UPMC South Side was that it was a community hospital with the convenience and easy access to the "big city" facilities.
In fact, not long after the announcement was made that UPMC South Side was closing, there were multiple patients who came in to the emergency room quite upset. Patients that ranged from the senior citizens in the highrises only blocks away who were very upset that they were losing the convenience and the family-type setting of their familiar hospital that they had been coming to for years, to the parents of small children who prefer bringing their children to us because we were close to home, and they did not want to drive in to the city, to all ages in between.
The comment had been made that this was in the best interest of the patients. But, I wonder, were the patients themselves ever spoken to?
In the article, it said that "patients go where there doctor tells them to go." This is not all together true. There were multiple patients that I myself took care of in the ER who said to me, "My doctor is at (fill-in-the-blank) hospital, but I wanted to come to South Side instead," and the reasons ranged from: we were closer, to they preferred our care, to they didn't want to drive in to the city.
Yes, there have been times when the census at South Side Hospital was so low on the in-patient end, that units were temporarily closed. However, that is part of working in healthcare. With very few exceptions, there is no predicting when someone is going to require a stay in the hospital. And, that is the case in hospitals everywhere.
I feel that it is very unfair to even try to compare UPMC South Side to Mercy Hospital as far as census, first of all because Mercy is a larger hospital.
I understand that the plan is to turn the emergency department in to an urgent care clinic. But, after reading that article, it seems that someone already has it set up to fail. The comment was made that the prediction is that the clinic will see 40-50 patients a day, but they need to see 80-90 to be profitable.
There is a wonderful team of people ready to begin work at the urgent care facility, and I'm sure that this can't make them feel very secure about their jobs. Not to mention, it can't be good for employee morale when a superior of yours is already saying that they don't feel this new endeavor will be a success.
I would again like to say that, it was repeated over and over that this "merger" with Mercy Hospital was in the best interest of the patients. However, none of the patients that I took care of between the time that this announcement was made and the time I left the ER can recall being asked if this is what they thought was best for them. None of them recall being spoken to, and very few of them thought that this was a good idea.
If this is truly in the best interest of our patients, shouldn't they be involved in the decision?
UPMC's slogan is "choose your healthcare as if your life depended on it," and now a lot of the patients feel one of their choices has been taken away from them for no reason.