Just barely a week after Dr. Deanna Duncan was granted a license to open up a new Hospice in Chattanooga, TN called ‘Hearth Hospice’, the hospice I’d been employed at for a year – ‘Hospice of Chattanooga’ – began laying people off, beginning with me.
None of the 11 of us had any idea that we were going to be canned. In fact, Hospice of Chattanooga waited until we all had finished a full day’s worth of work before we were called into ‘The Office’ and told our fate. Me on July 5th. And per the information from my co-workers, nine more on July 9th. And, another one on July 11th with the promise of many more to come.
Ripped Off – “Hand over your cell phone now. We know that you were allowed to use it as a personal phone too, but you can’t take your personal pictures or videos off of it before turning it in. I know you have young children, but you can always take more videos. Sorry.”
Stripped of Dignity “Here’s a box for you to empty out your belongings from your cubicle. I’m sorry, but I have to stand here and wait for you to collect your things.”
Up until the lay-offs I was very proud of my job and how my co-workers worked together to provide the best care I have ever seen provided in my career. The nurses, grief counselors, chaplains, social workers, and wound care nurse all worked together on my team like a finely oiled watch and provided excellent care.
In retrospect, a couple of months ago I was invited to a small, private corporate meeting where a speaker, from out-of-town, spoke for two solid days on how to tighten up the company and make a bigger profit.
I had a hard time trying to incorporate the concept of making a profit with a Hospice which is advertised as the only non-profit Hospice in Chattanooga. But I was bedazzled by the care my team provided to our patients so I didn’t question much. I was happy.
Then, the company had a huge meeting this past Tuesday where the CEO announced that the news is bad and that it is going to get worse because a lot more people are going to be laid-off in the near future.
I don’t know how this is going to affect quality care to our dying patients, but I surmise that it can’t be a very nice future for their care. This week alone, Hospice of Chattanooga has already laid off three grief counselors, a handful of nurses, and THE ONLY ‘Wound Care Nurse’ on staff.
I’ve seen that ‘wound care nurse’ heal up the worst bedsores I’ve laid eyes on in 33 years of nursing. She had tons of techniques. When a patient develops a wound, we refer it to the wound care nurse. She evaluates it, treats it, and then tells the Primary Nurse who has the patient how to continue treating it.
In my professional opinion, without a wound care nurse, the patient’s are going to be in big trouble. Bed bound patients are extremely prone to developing bedsores. The Primary RNs aren’t nearly as good at diagnosing and treating bedsores as the Wound Care Nurse who specializes in wounds is. Laying her off was a huge loss to the patients. A severe bedsore will kill a patient quickly with the infections it can develop. Look at Christopher Reeves who played Superman. He was rich but a bedsore is what caused his death. Stopping and treating bedsores in early stages are crucial to a patient’s longevity.
When the new Hospice Care Module, which was developed in that private 2 day seminar, is implemented, the nurses will have less time to spend with each patient, which will translate into increased profits and decreased quality of care – in my book. I believe 50 minutes is the max amount of time that is to be allotted for a patient visit and that includes the 20 minutes of computer charting the nurse does. That is going to take a big bite out of the time the nurse used to have to socialize with the patient, and for some patient’s, that is the only socialization they get.
How can quality care translate into laying off 3 grief counselors? Grief is a huge part of Hospice Care. We use grief counselors like crazy. The counselors who are still on staff are going to have to double up on their patient load.
I don’t understand how a place that is supposed to be Non-Profit can be focusing so hard on profit at all of its company wide meetings. And, why they would spend thousands of dollars to bring in someone to analyze the company and develop ways of making the most profit possible.
During that private seminar, it was suggested that if employees could find ways to bring in more profit for the company they could be offered monetary incentives on a quarterly basis that could translate into hundreds of dollars if things were done right.
Am I misunderstanding the meaning of Non-Profit Organization?
Either way, if my friends or family members need a Hospice, I’ll choose one who has a wound care nurse, grief counselors, and nurses who are allowed to spend quality time at a patient’s bedside.
It’s a sad time for Hospice of Chattanooga and my co-workers there.