Jump to content

Low Census


Was just wondering how widespread low census is in the NICU. Here in Tallahassee, Fl, we have been slow for the last year, and really slow the last 6 months. Upper management has figured out that we have called off 6,000 hours in the last 6 months with no end in sight. Is this just a regional thing, or is it an ecomomy thing? We have noticed that we aren't getting the micros like we used to.. 34-35 wks is now what we are seeing. How's your unit?


preemieRNkate, RN

Specializes in Level III NICU. Has 7 years experience.

Not us! Busy, busy, busy for the past few months. Lots of high-order multiples, a few micros, quite a few MAS/PPHN kids. We also recently started admitting any baby born under 36 weeks. We used to send babies that were over 35+1 (and otherwise healthy) to the NBN.


Specializes in NICU.

We're up and down up and down but in general this year we are down.

Lot's of late pre-term babies. Darn elective c-sections.


Specializes in L/D 4 yrs & Level 3 NICU 15 yrs. Has 19 years experience.

We have been waaaay down the past 3 mos. We are at 50-60% capacity and the "oldtimers" haven't seen it this low in 15-20 years! We do expect it to turn around soon, though!

Our 22 bed unit has been filled to capacity off & on for the past few months-having to close at times (which management hates to do), so it looks like everyone's having their babies in San Francisco

Imafloat, BSN, RN

Has 13 years experience.

We were extra slow from Feb-June. We have been busier lately, but not the type of busy we used to be a couple of years ago. We used to be at full capacity much of the time, our new 'busy' is about 3/4 full.


Specializes in Cardiac, NICU, ED. Has 2 years experience.

Our NICU is usually staffed for 8 babies. We have been having anywhere from 14 to 21 for the last two months at least. The overtime has been getting excessive. Where we used to have a few methadone babies a year, we have been having 5 at a time. So definitely no low census in my neck of the woods.


Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

We have been generally bursting at the seams for awhile now, with slow being 3/4 full in all of our neonatal units. Can we send you some babies?

chescat58, RNC-NIC

Specializes in NICU - 112 bed NICU. Has 28 years experience.

We are kind of slow right now with 105, this time last year we had 138, way too many!! But in reality 105 or so is just perfect. I think the economy is not affecting our population, there are lots of folks still having babies; however, what the economy is affecting is there is more NPC even though there are clinics.


Specializes in NICU.

At my new unit we are up and down. At my old unit i am told that they are super slow.


Specializes in NICU. Has 3 years experience.

we've had some unusual back and forths with our census too...usually we are just low in the late summer (we have a capacity of 82...in the summer, we are in the low 50s sometimes)...but when h1n1 hit, we seemed to be low while the rest of the children's hospital was busting at the seams...we've kinda stayed on the low end for a little while...hoping it'll pick up soon!!!

Mimi2RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 27 years experience.

So where do you live? We are in central California. Our census has been down since about last September. Staff are called off way too much, it's hard when you lose a day or two every paycheck. We have 8-10 staff available for every shift, and are using 5-6, sometimes less.

We have been told that this is a national trend. Mothers are getting prenatal care and the babies are healthier, so less babies are being admitted to the NICU. Reading this thread, it seems that some places are still busy, so where are you located?


Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

We have been told that this is a national trend. Mothers are getting prenatal care and the babies are healthier, so less babies are being admitted to the NICU. R

I'm sorry, I think maybe you are getting fed a bit of line here to make it seem like uncontrollable and positive circumstances. I have attended two talks on prematurity by the March of Dimes in the last year. There was mention of decreases in prematurity, but they were SLIGHT...as in 0.1 % nationally. I don't think that we would be seeing a massive low census from this decrease.

Something we were wondering was if...with the economy....people might slow down on their rate of having children. The local paper ran a big story on this and asked lots of families, and lots of families said they were holding off on children. However, if anything, we have been more busy of late. (We are wondering if it is that with less money, people are more likely to spend the night in rather than out!)

Unfortunately, I just don't think that vast increases in prenatal care nationwide can be responsible for your low census. (It would be great if so many more babies were healthy!). Maybe you live in an area more heavily impacted by the economy where people are actually slowing down on kids? Is there a competing hospital in the area that may be taking some of the patients? Or maybe it's just a rut...I feel like we all hit what feel like exceptionally slow periods sometimes. I'm sorry to hear you're getting cancelled so frequently!

Mimi2RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 27 years experience.

Actually, there has been no change in the delivery rate (350-400 a month), but rarely do we see moms with no PNC. We are the only hospital in town. The few that transfer to our Children's hospital don't seem to be coming back, their census is down, too.


Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

Well that's great that you're seeing increased prenatal care in your community. I would not say that we are seeing this, although in general we don't see a ton of moms with no prenatal care. I still don't buy that this is a national trend. National data is not typically evaluated in real time, and if it was, somebody would be singing a big song about such a vast improvement. Also, I'm not sure what type of unit you work in, but many/most of the admissions to our unit have actually had extensive prenatal care due to known or discovered risk factors with mom or baby.

Level III NICU, Los Angeles area...we slowed down in Nov '09 and have been getting slower since. At first, we thought it was due to changes made in contracts with our hospital. Now, we're thinking it's the economy and fewer ppl having babies/possibly fewer immigrants working here. My remedy for the lack of work in my own unit was going to be Registry work (but they are stating NICU requests are severely down/rare). It's like the bottom has dropped out in my neck of the woods! Good luck to anyone else struggling to get by in NICU :)).

We are a small 6 bed unit in WA., officially listed as a SCN. WE have been down for a long time. IN fact our unit is rarely open! We have had a busy streak 2 weeks ago and was full for 2 weeks..now just a slow "leak" of 1 baby in/out over 24 hours....we routinely get called off 2 of an 8 night stretch. We are 40 minutes from Vancouver/Portland. Don't know if moms are chosing to "go south", but even those that stay and deliver here, the babies are needing less intervention.

babyNP., APRN

Specializes in NICU. Has 13 years experience.

We are slowwwww here in D.C.! But we expect starting in June that we will have an increased census and get our 25 weekers, right about the time from the snow storm. You know...being cooped up and all that :D