Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hospital Cited over Staffing

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hospital Cited over Staffing

Article excerpt

TOO FEW NURSES: Manatee Memorial is trying to hire more to satisfy state

Manatee Memorial Hospital's leaders say they have been working since March to hire 45 more nurses. But the recruitment did not happen fast enough to avert a state inspection in April, which uncovered nurse staffing levels considered too low for patient safety, especially at night, state records show.

According to an Agency for Health Care Administration report released this month, nine nursing units in the hospital had one less nurse on duty than required on most dates during a 12-day period in early April, with night shift shortages most frequent. Manatee Memorial responded in writing that it would "recruit additional full- time and part-time staff."

The state visit was prompted by one or more complaints to the agency. Reviewing patient records, AHCA found failures to give proper medications and prevent falls, leading to an investigation into whether the hospital had enough nurses for its workload.

Manatee Memorial now has 564 nurses on staff, with 26 of them newly hired, said Vernon DeSear, the hospital's vice president of marketing. Efforts to add 19 more will continue, reflecting a deliberate move away from trying to save money with temporary workers.

DeSear said that patient numbers -- and corresponding demand for nurses -- once fluctuated widely between winter and summer, and the hospital handled peaks in demand by drawing from a pool of "on- call" nurses. But the pattern has recently shifted to a more stable year-round demand, he said, and hospital leaders had decided to address this new reality when the state inspection occurred.

"The team is important," he said. "We knew at the time that this was what we wanted to do. But do you ramp up during winter season?"

In one case cited in the AHCA report, a congestive heart failure patient did not receive a dose of Lasix -- a medicine that combats fluid retention -- that a doctor had ordered. …

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