Monday, November 5, 2007

When our sixth floor will close

This afternoon hospital managers met with residents (and then with staff) of the sixth floor, 50-bed skilled nursing unit at Community General Hospital. A representative of the Department of Health was present. They announced what everyone wanted to know (and dreaded to hear) – a closure date for the sixth floor.

CGH’s skilled nursing floor will close on January 15, 2008, conforming to the requirement of the Berger Commission.

On September 28, New York State announced its decision to allocate grant funds to close CGH’s sixth floor. It was part of an overall agreement negotiated by Community General Hospital and Onondaga County to comply with the Commission’s requirement for affiliation and downsizing. Understandably, the decision to fund the closing created uncertainty among residents and staff. It made the closure suddenly real.

As a result, some residents and some staff members began to make decisions about leaving the sixth floor, not wanting to wait for the planning process to unfold. Sixth floor occupancy has declined from a census of 48 (September 28) to 41 (today)…and this trend will continue.

As staff departs, more temporary personnel will be required, increasing variability and potentially affecting quality. As residents transfer, a lower census generates financial losses. Neither trend is tenable for an extended period of time. For these reasons, after management consulted with the State Department of Health, I made the decision to announce a specific closing date. This ends the period of uncertainty, it avoids a more protracted period of declining occupancy, and it allows residents and staff to start making their plans.

Consistent with state regulations, there will be a 30-day closing period, starting December 15. We announced this today so residents and staff have advance notice to start planning for the transition period.

Is the holiday season a good time to do this? No.

A compliance plan was required by the state by the end of September (thus, its funding announcement of September 28). It also requires an executed agreement between CGH and the County by December 31. Such time frames and the associated announcements affected both residents and staff, making the holiday impact inevitable.

Last Friday I wrote about the Thanksgiving quilt, a patchwork of thoughts, reflections, and aspirations being generated by members of the CGH family for display during Thanksgiving week. I share with you one of the thoughts just submitted:
I am thankful for the capable and compassionate staff who have taken care of my [parent] on the sixth floor….We will miss them when we are forced to move [my parent]. (Original emphasis.)
I sincerely regret the disruption, the upset, and the sadness occasioned by the closure of our skilled nursing unit.


Mike Byrnes said...

I read of the closing of the sixth floor with sadness. The staff always did a good job and we as a family were always comforted that my aunt was getting the best care. My aunt, Dr. Jane L. Byrnes was a resident there for nearly 7 years, from 1999 to 2005 and the staff was always so good to her, even when she couldn't return the favor. I wish them all the best.

Michael Byrnes nephew of Dr. Jane L. Byrnes

Tom Quinn said...

Thank you, Michael, for your thoughtful comments. I remember Dr. Byrnes, and I know the staff does too. I will make sure they see your message.

-Tom Quinn