I work in a SICU at a mid-level 400-500-bed hospital in an urban area. Our hospital is a teaching hospital and has the 12-bed SICU I work in, a 12-bed MICU, and a 10-bed CVICU/Step-down Overflow. Since late March, our unit has experienced persistent low census of SICU patients. It's gotten so bad that our unit has actually been closed four times in the last 3 months. The patients that we do get aren't very sick and usually transfer out in a day or two. We've actually taken quite a number of stepdown patients just so we can stay open. While all of this has been going on, my colleagues and I have been persistently floated far and wide, low-censused, and put on standby. This has resulted in several of us having to deplete our PTO bank just to subsidize a full paycheck.
Administration says we're just in a slow period, but some of the nurses that have been around for 10+ years say that we have never had a time period in which the SICU has closed more than once and even then it would be closed only for a day, not a week at a time like we've had recently.
I attribute this problem to less and less surgeons doing surgeries at our facility. Our entity is the oldest in our healthcare system and I think a lot of the docs are opting to take their cases to the newer facilities in the system located more in the suburban areas. Some of the more tenured nurses on our unit have said that we used to have nearly 10-12 docs doing surgeries every week... and they were from a variety of specialties. These days all we get are the occasional fem-pop, carotid, and colon resections.
I was curious to know if anyone else has dealt with this and whether this might be foreshadowing of things to come down the line. What is the best way to approach the employer with concerns about this. I like my job, but I worry about the sustainability of this if it continues.