MODESTO COUNTY: Hospital In ‘Stable’ Condition
Doctors Medical Center suffered a "rocky transition" when it "took over emergency and hospital care for some of [Modesto] county's poorest and sickest residents" after Stanislaus Medical Center closed last November, the Modesto Bee reports. But the situation appears to have stabilized. Graham Pierce, Doctors' emergency services director, said the tough transition was due to many factors, including nurses who were "still learning new systems and procedures" and "dealing with different types of patients." In addition, "thousands of residents who used Stanislaus Medical Center almost exclusively for their health care had to go to a new hospital" in the midst of "the worst flu season in decades." The department "received patients it wasn't accustomed to: knife, gunshot and rape victims, and psychiatric patients" who typically would have gone to the county hospital. The Bee reports that "[o]n top of that," many "of the planned security changes were not finished." The Bee also reports that in December, the Doctors Medical Center emergency department treated 1,500 more patients than it did in December 1996, and hospital admissions increased to 730 from 417 the previous December. Pierce said, "December is always a high month. We were ready for high volume. What we weren't ready for was what we got."
According to Pierce, "[m]any of the problems are behind the hospital now." He said that "[s]ome of the changes that have been made" include an increase in hospital security, as well as an increase in "the number of emergency department physicians, nurses, clerks and other staff by 35%." The hospital also "hired people to help patients and their families while they're waiting in the department." Pierce said, "We're trying to take care of things before they happen" (Lane, 4/8).