Low-Census and you......

  1. Our hospital is smaller than most, and the past three weeks we have had such a low census. I work in the OB department, but low census affects everyone. I am cross-trained to the ER also, so if we are not busy, I "float" there. BUT, it seems that our ER is not even busy these days!!! It is sure to pick up, but when we are called to stay home on call, it doesn't help to pay the bills. I don't use my PTO to make up for hours missed, because I am saving those for my vacation this fall.

    Does your hospital compensate you for low-census or is it just on-call pay? (Our on-call pay really bites too!)

    I have thought about finding another place of employment but I really like my job and the people I work with. Plus, we are in a small town with not too many options available.

    Does this happen to anyone else often?
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   sjoe
    "we are in a small town with not too many options available"

    And that, simply, is the main reason for your present situation. Unless there are a lot more auto wrecks every day or so, to keep your ER filled, or a lot of RNs quit, how could the situation improve? There is little reason to staff for more patients than are there. (And yes, I know, the nurses' version of adequate staffing is usually different from the hospital version--but it is the hospital that decides what "low census" means.)

    When I last worked for a HMO, if you were sent home early or phoned at home not to come in, you simply were not paid for that time. And on-call pay was less than minimum wage.
  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    I started a similar thread about a week ago, after I'd been called off for the second time in the same pay period. I'm glad it's not just my hospital---like you, I live in a small town---but it bites when you're sitting at home NOT making any money and see a kid riding by your house on his bike,without a helmet, and find yourself thinking, hmmmm, potential patient there........
  5. by   Repat
    Well, I live in a fairly mid-sized city. We can be called off, but are expected to be available if needed after 4 hours (so, if you're called off for 7am, you are expected to be available to come in at 11am if they need you, etc). No compensation for sitting around being "available". I really think that this "just-in-time" staffing has a very negative effect on morale.
  6. by   askater11
    We've been on low census. One minute it's high the next it's low.

    First the contigent nurses are asked to leave. (that's me) Usually I ask them to find/ask other nurses if they'd like to go home. That usually works--so I can stay. We get no compensation and don't have to be on-call.
  7. by   jaxnRN
    sjoe: I didn't mean to complain about not having any serious injuries. I work OB, not the ER, and I was just stating that to stress the point that I am flexible to work any department if needed.

    I just wondered what other hospitals do if there is a low census. Usually, I don't get a call UNTIL I have my kids at daycare and arrive to work and punch in. THEN, I get the usual, "hmmm, didn't anyone call you?"

    It just really gets frustrating. I was just asking about other hospitals. Thanks.
  8. by   BadBird
    Being agency you really have to schedule extra days in the summer in anticipation of being cancelled for some of them. I am glad I took a weekend job, at least I know I won't be called off, then I just fill in one or two extra days. Census is always low in the summer but once late
    Fall starts all the hospitals are busting at the seams up here .
  9. by   kryzzz
    I worked at a for-profit hospital where they management, the way-up there, corporate management, expected the same productivity numbers in the summer as they had in the winter.

    Then they'd lay people off, not nurses, probably because of the union, but other folks, like RTs, because of the decreased productivity. Then come fall, and the flu season, and they'd demand over-time.and just squeeeeeze, everyone.
  10. by   francine79
    I live in a small town with a 42 bed hospital. we have a mandatory 1 day a month stay home. We get on call pay. $1.50 an hour.
    Im a little upset by the whole deal. I'm a college student I can't afford not to work. But I guess the rest of the benefits are worth it. Dont know if we "really" are going to stay home 1x a month since it's my first week, but I hope not.
  11. by   BearLV
    I work on a fairly small unit of only 21 beds. In comparison, the med-surg floor in my hospital is 46 beds. We have rarely been full over the summer, our census is usually around 14-15, if that. Last weekend I worked we had a whole 7 patients on the floor. I started in April, and this last pay period was the first one since I've started where I have actually worked all my scheduled days, as we get put on call so often. I can't complain about being on call too much though, we get $2 an hour to be on call, and if they call you in its time and a half. So not too bad a deal in my opninion.
  12. by   blue280
    I have had low census each of my pay periods since June. We don't get on call pay and we are expected to be available for the next 4 hrs if they call you at home. This means since I work weekend nights I might be told to stay home until 11PM and then come in to float for the next 8hrs. It can be frusrating and since I have bills to pay, I have been using my PTO time to compemsate for lost wages. I wish I knew a way around the system.
  13. by   Gardengal
    We maintain a full census all year in our ICU except for maybe 1-2 weeks/year. We're usually looking for more staff instead of hoping not to be called off. Most of the staff would love an additional surprize day off.

    Years ago I worked staff in a facility where we had a big drop in summer census. When people started to get sick of being downstaffed, I volunteered to be farmed out elsewher for weeks at a time and we all won out. I gained a few new skills, learned more flexibiity, saved my vacation time. The other departments got the help they needed and my peers protectedtheir benefit time and paid hours. It was fun.

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