ANDERSON — This weekend an orthopedic surgical, chest pain, and a medical unit at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital stood empty.
Patients cared for in the these units were not missing, however, they were just strategically admitted throughout the hospital to save both time and money, officials said.
“We open and close nursing units according to the number and type of patients we have so we can best care for patients while at the same time being good stewards of our resources,” said Tom VanOsdol, president of St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital. “Some of our patient care units are dedicated to caring for individuals with very specific needs, many of which are elective and done only during the week. So, it would not be unusual for those units to be closed over a weekend or holiday.”
The specialty, medical and surgical units can care for a total of 89 patients, and were closed Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. As the number of patients increase, they are redistributed upon admission back into these areas.
“This allows us to make the best use of our time and resources,” VanOsdol said.
On Tuesday, all but one of the units that had temporarily closed were reopened.
VanOsdol said the hospital is specifically designed to allow for the consolidation of patient services when admission numbers are down. He said St. Vincent has been using this strategy for a number of years and it is part of an ongoing stewardship to create savings that can then be passed on to patients.
By responsibly managing its resources last year, the hospital was able to offer “significantly” lower increases in the charges for services this year, VanOsdol said.
Since 1987, VanOsdol said there has been a trend in medical care to evolve into a more lean process and eliminate any unneeded steps or processes related to patient care. The savings are often reinvested into new facilities and the latest medical technology to improve overall patient care, he said.
Hospital officials stressed that patient care is never compromised during the times when patients are consolidated into other units of the hospital.
In fact, Nancy Pitcock, chief nursing officer for St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, said medical management staff members meet three times a day to assess patient needs and admissions demands in order to implement the cost-saving strategies.
“This is a very fluid process that can change hour by hour, depending on the needs of our patients,” VanOsdol said.
Brandy Hill, a spokeswoman for Community Hospital Anderson, said they also adjust staffing levels based on demands.
“We do flex the staffing based on our census, but have not run into a situation where it has been necessary to close an entire unit,” she said.
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