What has been your lowest census?

Nurses General Nursing


  • by Ted
    Specializes in ICU/CCU (PCCN); Heme/Onc/BMT.

I work for the second smalles hospital in Massachusetts. Total Potential bed population: around 32 patients.

Lately, I've been taking care of 50% of the hospital population . . . two people. (Total patient census for those nights was 4!. . . for the whole hospital!!)

(About a year ago, during this time of year, there was a total patient population of ONE !. . . . for the whole hospital! :eek: )

I guess this is the slow time of year. So I'm told.

I can't say that I'm happy about this. No patients, no money . . . no hospital?!?!? (. . . No job???)

Our small rural hospital does service a large geographical area which includes South-west Massachusetts, north-west Conneticut, and mid-eastern New York state. I'm told that this is to our advantage . . . a major reason why our hospital has existed for so long. Hopefully, this is true. I do like where I work!

When our ICU/CCU unit has been closed (because of no patients), I've been floating to either the med/surg floor or the ER. I actually like doing this. It beats eating up vacation time for being "on call". (We have a choice of being either placed on call or working on another unit.) It also helps keep work interesting.

Just wondering. . . . for those of you who work in small rural hospitals:

What's your lowest census? What do you do when your unit closes because of no patients? Do you have a choice to float to another unit or take call? What's your hospital's strategy to keep open during the "slow season"?



P. S. During our "busy season" (from mid-fall to late spring) our unit usually has between 3 to 5 patients. Often, the med-surg unit is filled to capacity (about 16 patients). The maternity floor has no set busy or quite season - - it's just whenever the mothers/babies are ready . . .



169 Posts

I've been pooled to paediatrics to be the second nurse for....drum roll please....

One 14yo kid with a fractured malleolus.....and that's it...


2,259 Posts

Specializes in LDRP; Education.

Our lowest census in OB has been zip, zero, ziltch, nadda.


4,516 Posts

There's been few times when my ICU census got to zero too...and it always makes me real nervous, cuz one ICU nurse always has to be in house ( and one on call)....and ya never know what's going to be rolling into ER ....and *wham* there ya are all alone with an unstable patient (or two) until the oncall nurse gets there...:(

If census stayed low and ER and stepdown didn't need me, I also had the option to float to another 'sister' hospital in the same corporation....and I'd rather do that than go on call to be honest.

But then again I looked at oncall duty as a way to support my coworkers so I took my turn. :)

I can think of a few holidays that our Tele census was about 5 out of 32. I know we've had 0 in the burn unit and 2 out of 16 in ICU.

Specializes in Med/Surg, ER, L&D, ICU, OR, Educator.

Ours is a 35 bed hospital. That includes ICU, OB, MedSurg. We don't 'float' to another unit as we are all trained to cover everything, including ER. Lowest census I've seen...2 patients....but that is really atypical.

cactus wren

295 Posts

i also work in a small rural hospital....46 beds, 4 icu....and a few weeks ago we had a total census of 4......icu closed, ob closed, 4 m/s patients. but that`s not the lowest i`ve seen. when i was in new mexico ( also a small rural) we had one shift with zero, zip ,zilch patients.....was the longest shift of my life....had to have enough help in case of a code rolling through the doors.....and there is just so much "make " work one can do............oh...last week, icu was full, ob was over flowing and there was 21 patients on m/s......so things come and things go, but just enjoy the down times.....they don`t last.:-)


951 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

Early in July, we had 2 patients in our 18-bed ICU. (Hospital usual overall census is about 220.) We got one more admission for a grand total of three. I walked around all day stating "I'VE GOT 2/3RDs OF THE PATIENTS IN ICU!!" (Well, that was 2!). LOL!

We are now full to the brim!! 17 to 18 patients every day. Low census never lasts long; gotta appreciate it while you have it!


1,961 Posts

I got called off last Monday. There were 2 in L&D, and 6 in post partum.

Of course, all things being unequal, the census in NICU was 60.



14 Posts

We have been extremely busy lately. Our Mother/Baby is an 18 bed unit and our L&D has 14 beds. If we are full then L&D has to hold the overflow until we discharge some. Which is not fun for us because even though L&D continues to care for the mom when she's back there after delivery we have to run back and forth taking care of the babies. This can be quite a hassle if you're really busy on the floor and can't get back to L&D to check on the baby often.

I worked Sunday and we were full with 5 in the back waiting on beds.

Cherry Soda

41 Posts

We've had 1-2 pts in our ICU. They call people to take a day off. Or, they float your butt.




1,037 Posts

WOW... Our hospital is huge.... I don't know exactly how many the hospital will hold, but the Orthopedic floor I work on has 30 beds itself, and it is a 6 floor hospital, with a N,S,E,W wings and a SE section...

I got sent home last night because of low census for the hospital, and the census was 195 patients... Go figure

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