Our Ability to Serve More and More Patients

Our Ability to Serve More and More Patients

As we end the 2019 fiscal year and begin a new one, I have been reflecting on all the great work that our teams are doing. The recent survey from the Illinois Department of Public Health was just the most recent opportunity for our team to shine, and I want to thank you for all your great work caring for our patients and community as we continue to see a surging demand for our services.

As you may be aware, since FY2013, our Adult Admissions and Observations have increased 53% and our Adult Inpatient Days have grown 50%. During that time, our Adult ED visits grew 59%, from 46,904 in FY2013 to an estimated 74,354 in FY2019 (2,638 of those visits were from Level I adult trauma patients).

Our ability to serve the growing number of patients — be it on an inpatient basis, such as in CCD, or an outpatient basis, such as in DCAM or in our adult and pediatric EDs — is a testament to the tremendous experience, teamwork and dedication of our nurses.

We can be equally proud that, as we have grown, we have added talented nurses to our team to ensure that our growth does not adversely impact staff or patients.  Our wages, benefits, and excellent staffing have made this a premier place to work.  Our vacancy rate in nursing positions is only 1.94%, which is well below a national average that remains close to 10%.  By adding nurses when needed and using our flexible staffing model, we have continued to provide patients the care they expect and deserve without increasing your workload.

The data bears this out.  Staffing on our units continues to average well ahead of the inflexible ratios that National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) advocates.  And we remain a health care leader on staffing as shown by Illinois Hospital Report Card data published by the State. Both nurses and leaders can be proud of their collaboration on the staffing model that allows our teams to adjust and address patient acuity and other situation-specific needs in real time.

It bears repeating that our ICU averages 1.67 patients per nurse, rather than the 2-patients-per-nurse model suggested by the NNU. Our adult and pediatric med/surg units are also well-staffed, consistently averaging less than 3.65 patients per nurse for the last three years. Publicly reported data of our adult med/surg and adult critical care staffing show we have the best staffing in those areas compared to all of our academic medical center peers in Chicago. The model that we have developed together is having real results and driving a culture of patient safety.

We believe in finding staffing solutions that recognize the wide scope of nursing practice and empower our nurses to lead. This approach has encouraged collaboration, created opportunities for innovation and professional development, and allowed us to use resources efficiently and effectively to provide quality care to our patients.

As we look ahead to continued bargaining sessions between our University of Chicago Medical Center leadership and NNOC/NNU representatives, please continue to visit ucmcnurses.org for updates about all the important issues we’re discussing. We are committed to getting you the facts you need to be informed, and to good faith bargaining that will ultimately allow us to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that respects the contributions of our nurses.

Our friends and neighbors are increasingly seeking our care because they know they can expect excellence. Thank you for everything you do to set that standard of care for our patients, one another and all members of our care teams.