this happened here on teusday. The Hospital is on of the 2 county Hospitals, and it is also the hospital thatn delivers the most babies in the country, as well as one of the MAJOR pedi trauma hospitals here.
June 5, 2001, 11:40PM
LBJ back to normal after 16-hour 'internal disaster'
By JANETTE RODRIGUES
Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle
Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital resumed normal operations Tuesday morning after a 16-hour period when it couldn't accept patients for its emergency and intensive-care centers, hospital officials said.
Patients during this period were sent to other hospitals in the area.
The "internal disaster" ended at 7 a.m. after hospital officials brought in temporary nurses to increase the staff in its intensive and emergency-care centers. The hospital began diverting emergency patients about 3 p.m. Monday.
An "internal disaster" signifies a significant problem within a hospital such as interrupted phone service, utility problems or a staffing shortage that may affect the quality of care available at the facility.
Dr. David Persse, director of Houston's emergency medical services, said it's unusual for a hospital to implement an "internal disaster" much less call for one because of a nursing shortage.
"They are so rare that we don't even count them," Persse said. "Not only was LBJ on internal disaster, it was on it for a long period."
Generally, hospitals go into "internal disaster" mode for an hour or two, Persse said. In 1999, he said, Ben Taub Hospital administrators called one after a boiler blew up and four workers suffered minor burns and injuries.
In a prepared statement, hospital district officials said they will make every effort to ensure that appropriate staffing levels are met in the future.
The statement continued, "If the hospital is incapable of providing optimal care, administrators will continue to make operating decisions in the best interests of the patients of our community."
Bryan McLeod, a hospital district spokesman, acknowledged the nursing shortage could cause LBJ to go into "internal disaster" mode again if a similar situation arises.
Hospital officials decided to stop accepting patients after the number of nurses in the emergency-care center dipped from five to four, McLeod said.
Staffing levels differ at hospitals, but at LBJ a fully staffed emergency-care center would have 10 to 12 nurses, and intensive-care would have eight, a hospital spokeswoman said.
McLeod said LBJ now has 12 nurses working in the emergency-care center, seven are temporary nurses. He said the temporary agency is paid about $40 an hour for each nurse.
The chronic nursing shortage effecting Houston is part of an international problem that is plaguing hospitals and nursing homes from London, Texas, to London, England.
Fewer people are willing to go into nursing because of wage and quality of life issues. Hospitals are having trouble keeping nurses, especially those who work in high-stress emergency and intensive care centers.
A recently released University of Pennsylvania study of hospital nurses found widespread concern about the quality of patient care because of staff shortages. More than 43,000 registered nurses in 711 hospitals in five countries participated in the study.
The study reports that burnout levels among nurses are high and a significant number -- at least one in five of all nurses and one in three nurses younger than 30 -- expect to leave their jobs within the next year.
The hospital district has had continuing financial problems. In May, officials cited nursing shortages at Ben Taub as the reason for shutting down a 30-bed unit, one of three medical-surgical wards, and eight beds in its surgical intensive care unit.
McLeod said Ben Taub has been unable to reopen the unit or the beds.
With a deficit of at least 29,000 registered nurses, Texas is in the unenviable position of being in the bottom tier of states in nurse-to-patient ratio.
The Gulf Coast region has a shortage of about 5,600 nurses that is effecting nearly all local hospitals.
P.s. thank god we have 120 hospitals in the houston area to chose from though
[ June 06, 2001: Message edited by: Dplear ]