By Lynda Lohr
Feb. 19, 2009 – On Monday, the eight-bed Intensive Care Unit at Roy L. Schneider Hospital overflowed with patients, forcing staff to rearrange the ICU to accommodate additional patients, hospital spokesman Sam Topp said Thursday.
"It was a matter of a few hours," Topp said.
The situation also forced the hospital to call in additional staff.
As a result of Monday's circumstances the hospital's medical director, Dr. Thelma Watson, Wednesday asked the hospital governing board to expand the ICU by six beds and add two more additional registered nurses.
"It will be a remodeling job on the third floor," Topp said.
Watson estimated the six additional beds would cost $200,000. The two extra nurses would run another $200,000 a year, but Topp said those nurses would come from an agency.
"And there's already a nursing shortage," he said.
Board Chairman Cornel Williams recommended an analysis be done to see how many times a year such a situation is likely to happen before committing the funds for the expansion.
"If this is a once-in-a-long-time event, the hospital will end up having unused beds," Topp said.
He said the analysis will look at how often the overflow occurs, what kind of cases are involved and if it will be cost effective to expand the ICU.
In other business, Harold Wallace, who serves as administrator at Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on St. John, told the board that negotiations haven't finished between the Community Health Center and the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department. The federal agency hopes to rent space at Myrah Keating so it can serve St. John veterans. Currently, those veterans must go to St. Thomas for treatment.
Wallace said the Community Health Center offered Veterans Affairs a "very fair deal" considering the cost of comparable locations on St. John. He noted that Myrah Keating offers a good location, utilities, ample parking, public transportation, and convenient emergency medical services.
Topp did not want to make public the per-square-foot price under negotiation because the deal isn't done.
Interim Chief Financial Officer Eugene Walsh told the board that a system to properly code hospital bills was installed. He said the hospital lost millions of dollars each year because it fails to properly code bills.
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