Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center has removed 30 beds from service, according to The Virginian Pilot. The removal means that there are about 135 staffed beds out of the total 238 licensed beds for the facility. Interesting, as that figure is almost identical to the 134 beds that the city’s consultant determined was appropriate and which the DePaul Emergency 134 group endorses. Heading into next week’s public hearing, whose position does such a move improve?
Buried at the end of the story is a comment by Mayor Paul Fraim regarding a meeting that he participated in on Monday with Bon Secours officials.
“They did not mention anything about the downsizing that was announced today,” he said Wednesday.
How can you announce a downsizing that was effective Wednesday, including the relocation of the staff, and not have that mentioned in a meeting held just two days prior? It’s no wonder, then, that Norfolk officials don’t believe that Bon Secours has been upfront and truthful with the city.
Since I wrote the initial story last week on the DePaul situation, I have gotten a number of emails and phone calls from people on both sides of this issue. Yesterday, I participated in a taping of Norfolk Perspectives (which, after a whole lot of effort, I managed to capture the live stream and post here). Over the course of time, a couple of things have become clear to me.
First, the decision by Bon Secours to downsize DePaul to 64 beds was one done mostly out of the public eye. Like so many things, the public seemed to only become aware of this in recent weeks, although it was first brought to my attention some time ago. Despite the fact that Bon Secours has quietly engaged certain citizens, including some members of council, the city seems to have dropped the ball on this, not heeding the warnings of those like DePaul Health Foundation board member Bruce Holbrook, who now heads the DePaul Emergency 134 group.
Second, I don’t think Norfolk residents realize what the ultimate cost of the downsizing may be. In our taping yesterday, Fire Chief Loy Senter brought up the fact that a smaller DePaul hospital with fewer services will result in the routing of emergency patients to a hospital that is further away from them – either Leigh or Norfolk General. That will mean longer wait times for service. Ultimately, Norfolk citizens will have two choices: wait longer or pony up more money for more rescue positions. We all know how that will turn out.
The saving grace for Norfolk residents is that Bon Secours’ initial plan was denied by the decision-makers in Richmond. But time is running out. Let your voice be heard. If you can’t make the public hearing on July 18, by all means contact those who will be making the decision.