The emergency room volume at Good Samaritan Medical Center has about doubled since a massive fire closed down Brockton Hospital, leaving patients waiting for hours to receive treatment.
Staffing shortages at Good Samaritan pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic, according to nurses Denise Vinskus and Cheryl Fitts. They said the workload became overwhelming when Norwood Hospital shut down in 2020 due to catastrophic flooding. Now that Brockton Hospital is closed due to extensive fire damage, nurses say Good Samaritan is short-staffed on every floor.
“I had a patient wait in the ED for 19 hours the other day,” Vinskus said. “The ED is overrun. The influx of patients has been huge...inpatients are sitting in areas in the hallways. They’re not getting the basic care they need -- let alone the medical care that they need.”
The national average nurse-to-patient ratio is approximately one nurse to four patients, but nurses are treating up to 14 patience at once, according to Fitts. The staffing issues resulted in a 400% turnover rate on one floor at Good Samaritan, according to the nurses. Fitts said the nurses are asking the hospital to hire more staff amid contract negotiations but that leadership thus far has been lacking.
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“There’s no plan yet. There’s no plan. it’s like, where are we going with this? Take a look at that emergency room. There’s gotta be 50 people there,” Fitts said. “This is what we're left with. We’re left with scraps to put this community back together after it was decimated by what happened in Brockton.”
Brockton Hospital is expected to remain closed at least until mid-May. In the meantime, most of the patient overflow will continue to go to the nearby Good Samaritan Medical Center. And it’s all happening amid contract negotiations over staffing levels. Josephine Martin, as spokesperson for Steward Health Care, issued the following statement:
“Our community has suffered a tragedy with the devastating fire and loss of services at Brockton Hospital. The health of the people of the Brockton area is now on the line. Soon after last week’s fire, Good Samaritan Medical Center immediately began working with our colleagues at Brockton Hospital, and city and state officials to help maintain vital access to care for this community. Our emergency room volume has approximately doubled and we stand ready to assist this community by providing access to health care services. We need to make sure that we have enough community resources and critical staff to care for our patients. We have been working all week to eliminate any obstacles to bringing on additional staff at Good Sam. Community care is the hallmark of Good Samaritan, and we are committed to helping everyone who needs us."
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Brockton Hospital officials say they’re opening two urgent care centers that can handle up to 40% of what they would see in the emergency room. They’re also opening two urgent care centers. The first location on Liberty Street opens Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The 24-hour urgent care will open one week later on the hospital’s Centre Street campus. But nurses say it’s not enough.
“This community is in peril. I hate to say the word -- in peril -- but it’s in peril. Where are these guys going to go,” Fitts said. “We need people here now.”
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