We are approaching crisis time at this job of mine. For the past ten years, I have worked at this hospital, gotten to know its halls and its housekeepers and its nurses and its paperwork. Recently, the hospital was purchased by a large hospital system that has a monopoly in North Alabama. There is a second hospital here in town that has always had a fairly vigorous rivalry with our hospital, and we have spent time making sure our hospital offers the best and cleanest services so that we can compete with a larger place that has been around longer. But now this largest of all hospital system has purchased both hospitals, and it plans to merge them in the least graceful way possible.
They are moving all the baby deliveries over to the older bigger hospital with the uninspiring, unrenovated labor and delivery unit. Our patients, who selected us because we have the young, new L&D unit, with better amenities and perks, such as a gourmet dinner, a complementary massage and free WiFi, are ranging from disappointed to furious to leaving. The thing is, the bigger better hospital they’re leaving for is the mother ship that purchased us in the first place. So the mother ship doesn’t care. No matter what, they win. If the patients leave us to go to any other hospital in Northern Alabama, Huntsville owns them too. We are the ones who lose.
We had originally hoped that they would convert our smaller hospital into a mother/baby/pediatric unit. That would have been perfect; we could have kept our better L&D unit and the patients would have been pleased. Now they’re shuttling all the deliveries across town, and we have to drive all the way over there to do them. Even worse, they expect us to change over to the other clinic at the other hospital on our call days. So we’ll have to pack up our nurse and our computers and our paperwork and head over there to do clinic on the opposite side of town at least once a week. This couldn’t be a bigger cluster if they tried. I have been notifying patients all day that their deliveries will be across town and they are UNHAPPY.
But, the powers that be have told us that this is how things are going to be, and we have no say in the matter. The patients are disappointed, we are disappointed, and it is difficult to see how anyone is going to be happy with this situation. The only advantage that I can see is that we may be joining call schedules with the group across town, and if that is the case, we will go from one in every three night call to one in every seven night call. Of course, that one in seven will be a doozy. And our patients may be delivered by a doctor they have never met. And it may be a male – some patients selected our group because we are female only. So I will spend the rest of this month breaking it to unhappy patients that their delivery will not be here, at their chosen hospital, but at a poor substitute across town, and that they may or may not see one of their chosen doctors at all. So, Merry Christmas.