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Stanford Report, March 11, 1998

Bed crunch spurs search for solutions: 3/98

Bed crunch spurs search for solutions

BY MIKE GOODKIND

Stanford Hospital's inpatient census remained at or near capacity most days in February, prompting hospital leaders to search for long-range solutions to increase bed capacity, said Laurie Gunderson, director of nursing and associate hospital director for patient care.

Inpatient beds, particularly monitored beds, have been in short supply at the hospital since September, although the census dropped for several days in the middle of February.

"Overall it looks as if the increased volume isn't going away," Gunderson said. "So we are looking at all possibilities and analyzing inpatient and outpatient populations to make recommendations about what moves can be made in order to increase bed availability."

Malinda Mitchell, UCSF Stanford Health Care's senior vice president and chief operating officer for adult services at Stanford, is leading an ad hoc task force to explore long-term options, Gunderson said.

The reasons for the increase, which appears to be a Bay Area-wide phenomenon, are unclear, but Gunderson noted that the longevity of the trend reduces the likelihood that most of the increase was caused by the flu season or other seasonal variations.

From Sept. 1 through Jan. 31, the hospital's total number of inpatient days (the number of patients multiplied by the number of days they spent as inpatients) totaled 48,733, compared with 45,581 for the same period last year.

Patient days in surgical and cardiac postsurgical units (E2 and NICU) were 5,757 from Sept. 1 through Jan. 31, compared with 4,998 for the same period the year before.

Fully analyzed data for February are not yet available.

Patient acuity was slightly higher this year, as measured by a small increase in the average length of stay during the period, which rose slightly from 5.27 last year to 5.29 this year. SR