Arkansas VA hospital temporarily closes 19 beds as it deals with staffing issues

Little Rock, Ark.-based Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System is experiencing a nurse staffing shortage and has implemented a multipoint plan to beef up nurse staffing levels.

While the hospital's efforts to address the nursing shortage have been ongoing, a group of 30 nurses filed a complaint June 19 with the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, the Office of Special Counsel and state nursing board, citing understaffing, high patient loads and staff turnover, among other issues, as being a threat to patient safety, according to a statement CAVHS sent to Becker's.

The Veterans Health Administration Office of the Medical Inspector will conduct an external review of the nurses' concerns.

CAVHS' ongoing plan to address nurse staffing and turnover is extensive and includes an "aggressive" recruiting program. The main points of the plan include:

  • Temporarily closing 19 beds in its medical/surgical units to "protect and enhance patient care"
  • Hosting a nurse recruiting fair June 24
  • Offering recruiting incentives of up to $15,000, as well as referral and stay bonuses
  • Instituting nursing leadership listening sessions
  • Developing an action plan based on exit interview information to reduce turnover

More than 350 people applied for jobs during CAVHS' Saturday nursing career fair. "Our nurse recruiters will be very busy in the coming days to further review and complete the processing of those who are selected for hire," Salena Wright-Brown, CAVHS' associate director of patient care services, said in a statement. "It is a blessing to have a great pool of professionals who want to come work alongside the CAVHS team in the care of America's heroes."

More articles on patient safety:
Investigation: Understaffing in OR contributed to 2 patient deaths at California hospital
A new warrior in the sepsis fight: Dedicated sepsis nurses
Largo Medical Center warns 23 patients of possible endoscopy equipment contamination

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