Low census


I work in Indianapolis, and our hospital has had a low census for an abnormally long period (since mid-Februrary). Nurses are being cancelled and using up all their PTO hours. Is this occurring in other places? Is now a good time to get my masters, or are they going to be obsolete in a few years due to this reform? Thanks!

kool-aide, RN

594 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 5 years experience.

I'm in Indy as well and low census is UGLY right now! It's all this nice weather we've been having!

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

who can predict? We are expecting more patients to utilize the healthcare system with Obamacare - but no idea how much the reimbursement will be, so cannot predict if we can afford more staff. I recommend being cross-trained in other departments that may have more stable census (L&D, ER) or work agency till you can make a better informed decision.

Specializes in ED. Has 5 years experience.

I'm in KY, and it depends on where you work. Our cath lab nurses are getting maybe 16 hours a week, it's pretty bad. In the ER where I work...we are always short staffed, sometimes folks get EA'd early on, but most nights folks work till their assigned time.


37 Posts

Has 2 years experience.

Here in Wisconsin we're booming! My hospital has been at full capacity for weeks, which is so unusual for this time of year!

MrChicagoRN, RN

2,589 Posts

Specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care. Has 30 years experience.

Healthcare is local. Utilization can vary greatly due to state and local issues. For example, in IL Medicaid is cracking down on 30 day readmissions for certain diagnoses.

Has your leadership identified and communicated the reasons for the low census issues?

Specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg. Has 16 years experience.

Health care is seasonal too. Nicer weather, fewer people getting pneumonia/flu.

Nobody wants elective surgery when it's nice out.

We've been low census for about a month. It's no fun trying to pay the bills with 24 hrs less a paycheck.


396 Posts

Specializes in Oncology, Med-Surg, Nursery. Has 8 years experience.

Working in OB - it is always feast of famine. :)

Specializes in Orthopedic, LTC, STR, Med-Surg, Tele.

I'm in southern New England. Our census took a dip over the Memorial Day weekend and is pretty low still. The supervisors were saying, this always happens around Memorial Day!

Specializes in Orthopedic, LTC, STR, Med-Surg, Tele.

Oh and the cancellation/PTO/floating discussion is rehashed every. single. day. on my unit.


67 Posts

Not here. I'm in NY and our unit is almost full all the time. The hospital census has generally been middle of the road to high. I think we had a couple of days where it was low enough for people to be called off a few weeks to a month ago. Getting called off on our unit is a very rare thing....


448 Posts

Specializes in Management, Med/Surg, Clinical Trainer. Has 20 years experience.

We may see all of this level out, as far as census goes.

In March of 2011, the Affordable Care Act released guidelines that hospitals, MDs offices and other providers have been implementing. We all know this better as the Accountable Care Organizations.

It has taken some time to ramp the process up. In my organization we have an active ACO working. The ACO is a collaboration of MD groups and the hospital working together to manage care.

There are nurses who call folks after they are released from the hospital -- to try to prevent readmission. And this has shown great success.