HCA Florida hospital fires employees in wake of surgery disruptions: Report

HCA Florida North Florida Hospital in Gainesville has reportedly fired its vice president of surgical services and a number of other employees connected to the facility's sterile processing department. The news comes after the hospital suspended elective procedures earlier this year to address equipment sterilization issues. 

Patty Gursky, PhD, MSN, RN, former vice president of surgical services at the 510-bed facility, was reportedly removed from her position, according to a March 1 report from WUFT, which obtained the information from three employees at the hospital who spoke on the condition of anonymity after being ordered not to discuss the matter. Other employees in the sterile processing department were also reportedly fired. 

Dr. Gursky was promoted to the role in October 2023. She previously served as director of surgical services. 

North Florida Hospital, part of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, in January confirmed it was temporarily suspending elective procedures to address equipment sterilization issues beginning Jan. 17. At the time, a hospital spokesperson told Becker's the equipment-related problem was affecting "presurgical processes." The hospital has since added additional presurgical processing units, gotten new instruments and expanded surgical services staff, a spokesperson for the hospital previously told The Gainesville Sun. 

Employees told WUFT that dirty instruments with tissue residue from prior procedures were among the issues that led to disruptions in operations. In the wake of the issues, the hospital began administering a "no strikes" rule in which employees would be terminated immediately for any issues related to contaminated surgical equipment, sources told the news outlet.

On Feb. 6, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration visited the hospital and found no deficiencies, according to a summary of inspection records cited by WUFT

A spokesperson for the hospital sent the following statement to Becker's, though they did not address questions related to the firings:

"We have resumed all surgical operations at HCA Florida North Florida Hospital. We are performing nearly 100 percent of all elective surgical cases and expect to be at full capacity soon. We are dedicated to achieving this milestone with the same level of excellence our patients, physicians, staff and the community have come to expect from HCA Florida North Florida Hospital for the past 50 years."

According to WUFT, the hospital has also internally announced the hiring of a new chief operating officer, Mark Amox, who is expected to step into the role March 11 and replace John Gerhold. Mr. Gerhold was named CEO of HCA Florida Lake Monroe Hospital in Sanford in December. 

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