Jackson Hospital is addressing the national and local economic downturn by combining departments and streamlining operations, according to president and CEO Donald G. Henderson.
“We are providing the same quality care for our patients,” he said, “but are realigning the workforce throughout the facility to ensure the hospital remains financially sound in challenging times.”
Like most hospitals in Alabama, Jackson Hospital has seen an increase in bad debt and charity care, as a greater number of residents are unemployed and without health benefits. To that, he added, more people are declining elective medical procedures, and postponing surgeries due to an uncertain economy.
“All of these factors are causing us to reduce operating expenses hospital-wide,” said Henderson. “Every department has been affected, including administration.”
Recent changes to the workforce include:
- Consolidation of the resource management and health information management departments into clinical resource management. It is anticipated that this move will better position the hospital to adapt to what is anticipated to be a “pay-for-performance” environment for community hospitals in the future.
- Consolidation of clinical engineering and plant operations into the facilities management department.
- Phasing out of the employee night nursery, a service used by a very small number of employees.
- Transitioning of security officers to 12-hour shifts. According to security director Terry Reid, this will afford more officers per shift on premises each day.
- Because of the seasonal nature of hospital admissions, one patient care unit on the third floor of the hospital will be closed for the summer, and is planned to reopen in the fall when admissions volumes improve. Staff from this floor will be assigned to other nursing units.
- In other departments, clerical duties are being combined, sometimes resulting in the elimination of non-patient care positions.
One major change has been a redesign of the nursing model on the medical and surgical care units. Cynthia Dixon, RN the hospital’s vice president for patient care, reported the new model places more caregivers at the bedside in a team approach to nursing. Members of each team include a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, technician and unit secretary.
“We believe this new system will continue to increase patient and family satisfaction with more hands-on care for the patient,” said Dixon.
After several years of planning, Jackson recently opened new facilities on its hospital campus, including a new surgery center and imaging center. “The opening of these new centers has been very successful for our hospital. As the volumes of these new centers have increased, it has allowed us to reorganize staff at the main hospital to focus more on inpatient care,” said Henderson.
“Careful consideration was given as each department was evaluated for greater efficiency,” said human resources director Gilbert Darrington. “In the few cases where employees were not able to be placed within the hospital system, they were offered severance packages and full reimbursement of accrued earned time off (ETO).” A total of 17 full-time equivalents (FTE) were reduced from the hospital's workforce.