Low census anyone?

Specialties NICU


We are sooooo slow right now. It's ridiculous. I am getting cancelled at least once a week. We will pick up a little then we are right back down. It's driving me nuts. Where are all the babies? Our delivery service is unchanged and busy as ever (4,000/year). I just don't get it. I'm not asking for tons of babies, but at least 15 would be nice. Those darn tocolytics and steroids. Also the length of stay is just not what it used to be.

I am in the DFW area. Anyone else slow in the DFW area or in other parts of the country?

Specializes in NICU, ER.

Yep we are slow to. We attribute it to the economy. We service a large agriculture, migrant farm laborer population. And have unfortunately been in a drought for a couple of years. Sadly our migrant families have left to find work and have taken their families with them.


75 Posts

I am in Fort Worth and we slowed down for a couple of months earlier this year but are now very busy. We are working our on-calls and extra shifts. Where in DFW are you?


409 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

My unit was horribly slow last summer/fall/winter. Back in March, our census exploded - tons of

Not really. A nice constant flow. We go over about once a month for a few days, then it's back to normal. Thank goodness because we are short staffed.

Imafloat, BSN, RN

1 Article; 1,289 Posts

We have been low for at least 6 months. Our census will go up for a week at a time, then go right back down. I have been floating a lot. I have only been canceled once. Our acuity is down and our length of stay is down.

NicuGal, MSN, RN

2,743 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU.

I'll send you some...we got hit by the department of health during their visit for being over census.

NeoNurseTX, RN

1,803 Posts

Specializes in NICU Level III.

I think my unit has been way high since summer 2008.


1 Article; 2,512 Posts

Specializes in Neonatal ICU (Cardiothoracic).

We have had a comfortable census of 57-64 for the past few weeks after riding near 75-76 for awhile. We hold 58....

Unfortunately for the nurses who enjoy and built their lifestyle around our constant availability of overtime, we are now approaching a 1:2 nurse ratio of staffing levels, and have NO overtime now....

Our per-diems are floating a lot, and people are starting to squabble over the occasional night-shift call-in OT.

I was offered OT to simply triage and check VS in the peds ER.... thanks to swine flu scares, we've had 50-150 kids in our ED at any given moment for the past few weeks. I'm probably going to cross-train to this Peds ER in case I want some OT.


202 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

We are an 85 bed Level IV NICU, and usually are at full or over capacity. I think the maximum number of babies we had was 88. Two months ago, our census dropped dramaticaly to 55. Staff were freaking out, because that meant that RNs were being pulled to other units, and all overtime was cancelled. We have guidelines for pulls...Critical areas are pulled to other Critical areas only. So, we go to PICU, CVICU, or the Burn Unit. Guidelines are that we be given the most stable patient when we are pulled, but I remember being pulled to PICU a long time ago, and being asked if I thought I could admit a patient. I said no.

Imagine being used to our lovely tiny preemies, and then being assigned an 18 year old who weighed more than me. :o it wasn't fun.


459 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

I want to understand more about your facilities that you say run overfull. When our Level III is full, we find some kids who could be ok moving to Level II, either ours or transport out to a community Level II closer to home. Or we send kids to the peds floors who might be appropriate there. Or the PICU. Or we defer admissions. Now we are lucky enough to have another ECMO and surgical referral center nearby. I know not all of you do. But what do you do with extra babies? Where do you put them? How do you monitor them? What do you say to parents whose babies are housed in places that don't seem to look like actual bedspaces? Do you ever have issues with JCAHO or other regulating agencies about this? It seems like it would be illegal to run over the licensed number of beds, but I guess I don't actually know. What are the reasons for not doing any of the above mentioned to make legitimate space? I'm not trying to be critical. This just feels really foreign to me, and I want to understand more about how this works!

Specializes in NICU, Pediatric Urgent Care.

Shreveport, LA area - 43 bed nicu... we've been between a census of 13-24 kids since DECEMBER!!! Well, that's when I started at this hospital anyway... I have been called off twice consistently every single paycheck... so yeah you do the math on how much I've lost there... It SUCKS. I'm at the point now of finding a new hospital - There's one that gave me an offer in NW Arkansas and they are overflowing with kids.. so census shouldnt be an issue.

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