Medical Residents Hold News Conference on Staffing Levels at Children’s Hospital in Oakland
Staffing problems at Children's Hospital & Research Center at Oakland "routinely cause patient backups and force doctors to perform duties that divert attention from treating patients," medical residents at the hospital said at a news conference on Friday, the Contra Costa Times reports. According to a recent survey of the hospital's 81 residents, 80% of respondents have had to draw blood, while 75% have had to perform clerical duties. Residents said that hospital administrators have "turned a deaf ear" to proposals from the residents' union that they say would improve patient care and possibly improve the hospital's financial performance, the Times reports. Resident Dr. Marlene Rodriguez added that hospital administrators have hired outside consultants to work on staffing problems but have ignored the Committee of Interns and Residents' proposal to hire "discharge planners" to manage patient flow through the hospital. "We want to make a good hospital even better. It's time the hospital stopped stonewalling our proposals," Rodriguez said. However, hospital administrators said that the demands by the residents' union are "inextricably linked" to ongoing negotiations that would result in the hospital's first contract for residents, according to the Times. Joshua Rutkoff, area director of the Committee of Interns and Residents, said that residents voted to join the union in January 2003 in response to staffing shortages and equipment problems and that negotiations "have produced little headway in addressing" the concerns, the Times reports. Greg Souza, vice president of human resources at Children's, on Friday issued a letter stating that the residents should bring their complaints to a joint hospital-union committee formed by the hospital to address staffing problems. Souza said that residents do not understand "the complexity of the decision-making process required to address and resolve some of the issues they continue to raise." He added that the issues would be addressed when contract negotiations with residents resume April 19 (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 4/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.