A total of 14 physicians left the Commonwealth Health Center in 2012, yet only one has been replaced to date.
Dr. Sharlene Osman, director for Medical Affairs, disclosed this startling fact to the board Friday, adding that the hospital remains at a very critical stage due to its continued shortage of physicians.
“We have to fill those holes. That's the only way to realize revenues [for the corporation].We must employ doctors,” she told the board.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Juan N. Babauta earlier said that the corporation currently has 20 mostly full-time doctors. Of the number, two are assigned at the Rota Health Center. Though he admitted the need to recruit more physicians, Babauta emphasized that the number is stable for now.
Osman pointed out, however, that until all doctor positions are filled, it will be difficult for the public hospital to achieve the desired “higher than minimum care.”
Besides the shortage of doctors, Osman also bared recurring vacancies in other positions such as social worker, laboratory manager, and laboratory director, among other posts.
Hospital services director Karen Buettner also disclosed that the hospital has only two therapists (physical and respiratory) and one of them will be taking a maternity leave by end of March. Due to lack of physical therapists, the unit denied outpatient services to at least 20 referrals in January.
For respiratory therapy, Buettner said the unit needs two more FTEs to be adequately staffed for minimal overtime and transport cost, among other associated expenses.
The radiology department, meantime, may soon have no radiology specialist following report that its sole radiologist is set for leave soon. Two potential candidates from the private sector are being considered to temporarily fill this gap.
Buettner said other units currently at “dangerous staffing levels” include internal medicine, which needs two more doctors; labor and delivery, which lack midwife coverage every shift; and anesthesiology, when its locum leaves in April.
Buettner also reported that the hospital's orthopedic surgeon resigned last Feb. 4.
Besides an additional biomed and social worker for the dialysis unit, Buettner said they also lack a registered dietician for Medicare compliance.
The repair and maintenance unit of the dialysis center also needs more people. It currently has only one.
Osman revealed that the unit's only biomed is also considering leaving due to his frozen salary for the last 20 years. “If he leaves, you will have no dialysis unit!” she told the board Friday.
As for the nursing department, nursing director Leticia Reyes told the corporation board that a total of 40 nurses resigned in 2012 due to uncertainties at the corporation.
As of December 2012, the department has 146 nurses after they successfully recruited 18 while 20 are pending. In January 2012, the department had 168 nurses.