The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has seemingly abated the exodus of nurses at the public hospital, which now has a total of 160 nurses. This number is expected to increase in the coming weeks pending the recruitment of nine more nurses.
Nursing director Leticia Reyes is confident that CHC, which lost many nurses last year due to uncertainties at the hospital, will fill all 167 slots allowed for the department this fiscal year.
At one point last year, CHC only had about 130 nurses.
Of the 160 nurses right now, 14 are recent hires, Reyes said. The new recruits are composed of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants.
Operational wise, the current number of nursing employees is considered “stable,” translating to one nurse for every five patients per shift, Reyes said. In cases of higher patient ratio, reinforcements are called in, even it means incurring overtime costs, she added.
Besides key units at the hospital, nurses are also stationed outside the facility such as at the Department of Corrections. Some will be stationed at the soon-to-open Kagman Community Health Center.
Reyes believes a major factor in the success of their nursing recruitment is the commitment shown by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to make the necessary changes at the hospital. Since being slapped with Medicare citations last year, the corporation has shown great strides in many areas, including in operation, medical equipment and supplies, policies, procedures, and others.
Nurses also appreciate the “accountability system” that was put in place at all levels of the hospital, she said. “It really boosts their morale and performance. They have seen that the hospital is really moving forward and, slowly but surely, meeting all the standards,” Reyes said.
A tracking system that monitors the competency skills, licenses, and certifications of nursing employees has been put in place and continuing education and trainings are made available to them.
Last week, the corporation issued a one-month housing allowance to employees. This is part of the corporation's promise to fulfill, little by little, its unpaid housing obligation to employees. Since last year, the corporation also began paying back wages to employees.
CEO Juan N. Babauta said yesterday that the corporation, from the very start, has been transparent about the real situation at the hospital. Challenges, he said, were due to the lack of financial transition from being a public agency to now a corporation.