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No Major Lay Offs In CRMC’s Nursing Ranks, Despite Claims

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
No Major Lay Offs In CRMC’s Nursing Ranks, Despite Claims

Despite claims from multiple nurses inside Cookeville Regional Medical Center, CEO Paul Korth said there have not been major layoffs in the medical center’s nursing ranks.

“We recognize that there are currently many inaccuracies circulating regarding our actions, and I can confirm that there have not been ‘major layoffs in the nursing,’” Korth said in an email response.

Korth said Cookeville Regional has closed some beds and is experiencing some staffing issues due to the cancellation of a travel nurse contract.

“In an effort to reduce the exorbitant costs attributable to travel nurses, we recently developed a strategy to reduce our dependency on travel nurses which resulted in us temporarily closing some beds,” Korth said in an email response. “Hospitals have been gouged for a long time by the travel nurse industry, and our goal is to take those expenses and reinvest them into hiring local and full-time nurses.”

Since June, Korth said CRMC has decreased its dependency on travel nurses by 41 percent. Korth said they hope to further increase that number, while hiring local personnel to fill openings.

The questions about staffing inside the medical center came before the Wednesday announcement that Cookeville Regional would eliminate six upper-level management positions. A Stonecom News reporter spent some six hours in the emergency room last week before being admitted for observation. Multiple CRMC nurses, without questioning, shared stories of “major shortages” in nursing and support personnel across the medical center.

One emergency room nurse said there were not beds available in the medical center because of a lack of nurses. A CRMC nurse told our staff member that over the last month it has been common for a patient to spend two to three days in the emergency room before being placed in a room. A patient Wednesday said he spent 24 hours in the emergency room.

Korth declined a phone or in-person interview on the issues Friday, instead offering to answer questions via email. When asked about the delays in moving patients out of the emergency room, Korth said the issues were about moving patients to an acute facility or nursing home, or decisions made by patients to visit the emergency room versus using urgent care.

Indirectly, Korth did seem to indicate there are some delay issues.

“Unfortunately all hospitals nationally are currently experiencing longer than normal ER wait times,” Korth said. “We are well aware of these unfortuntate delays, and are currently implementing strategies to best reduce these delays.”

Korth said the entire U.S. medical system is suffering a nursing shortage “and the pandemic has exacerbated that shortage.” In his email response, Korth pointed to an American Hospital Association letter to Congress this spring that called the shortage a “national emergency.”


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