Local News

Flu, Staffing Shortage Prompts Raleigh Hospital to Cancel Some Surgeries This Weekend

Posted January 6, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Raleigh's second-largest hospital will not be scheduling elective surgeries this weekend. A shortage of nurses and aflood of new patientshas compelledRex Healthcareto make the move.

A hospital spokesperson confirms four of the hospital's highest-ranking physicians expressed concern about the situation Thursday. They asked the hospital to cancel elective surgeries scheduled for Friday, as well as the weekend. Hospital officials went ahead with its Friday schedule.

That spokesperson denies Rex is suffering a staffing shortage, and adds the number of elective surgeries cancelled this weekend are in the single digits.

"We feel very good about the number of staff we have here to take care of the patients that we see," says Kevin Cain, Rex marketing vice president.

Elective surgeries include hernia operations, hysterectomies, hip replacements and other procedures.

The North Carolina Nurses Association says hospitals everywhere are dealing with nursing shortages, and says some of the biggest shortages are in the emergency room, the intensive care unit and in surgical departments.

Association spokesperson Gail Pruett says the shortages are cyclical, and in this case, a strong economy has played a role.

"There are a lot of options for nurses in that some nurses choose to go into other areas and leave nursing," she says.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Kenneth Rich says Rex stands out.

"I go to Rex, Raleigh Community, and Wake[Med]. And this is not to imply that those hospitals don't have the same problems Rex has, they do. But it doesn't seem to be at such a critical situation as it is at Rex," says Rich.

Other doctors WRAL spoke with say the problem is Triangle-wide.