DePaul removes 30 beds from service

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.

22 thoughts on “DePaul removes 30 beds from service

  1. I cannot understand how everyone is getting bent out of shape over DePaul wanting to move beds out of Norfolk, yet Sentara has just moved 30 beds from Norfolk to Suffolk without anyone batting an eye. Sentara also benefits from non-profit status – so why are they not held accountable to contribute their part in caring for the indigent in Norfolk? The city in no way opposed Sentara’s removal of 30 beds, but at the same time, they have issues with Bon Secours moving beds out of Norfolk – this seems very unbalanced to me. If Norfolk truly needs this many beds – then why doesn’t anyone question the 30 beds that were moved out of Norfolk by Sentara?

  2. Wow…when I was very very young hospitals used to be about health care not just profit.

    One reason folks are “rushed” out of hospitals is b/c there is usually a shortage of beds. Sentara actually has a nurse who’s sole job is to run around the hospital and pressure units to discharge folks so they can have a bed for folks undergoing surgery that day.

    Hospitals used to keep lots of spare beds for stuff like epidemics. But that’s a thing of the past…so if we have an epidemic you can bet that your hospital won’t have any spare beds.

    Healthcare is not an ordinary biz like a restaurant or movie theatre….supposedly the medical field has a higher calling and a hippocratic oath…..d’uh….

    Thanks for posting this Vivian.


  3. Exactly Mosquito, you nailed it.
    And Don seems to think it is in the same category as a restaurant.
    I stick to what I said earlier- this hospital started out as a faith based health care facility run by Sisters. Now, Bon Secours is about to make a decision that will affect those who need it most.
    Seems like some in the Bon Secours admin need to re-read the Beatitudes.

  4. Thank you CONCERNED.You made a very good point in your above statement.You hit the nail right on the head.NOBODY questions what the local bully Sentara does.They do what they please and get what they want from the state health board.The city “managers” don’t question what Sentara does because they are probably in Sentara’s pocket and Sentara has friends at the state health board and in political circles.They get whatever they want.It’s very unbalanced as you say.Sentara frankly doesn’t want the indigent population crowding their halls or increasing their daily census with such patients.Shame on them.

  5. If the city council is SO concerned about the health of it’s citizens, how come they won’t ban smoking in restuarants?

    DePaul was built when patients stayed in the hospital for 3 days for gall bladder removals, now they stay less than 12 hours. Insurance used to pay a larger amount on claims, now they don’t and MEDICARE pays even less. It is easier to pay the bills to run a hospital when you get more money for the same procedures. Smaller number of beds doesn’t mean less care, just less operating cost. If it is good to streamline corperate america why must DePaul still operate the same as it did 20 years ago. If you want the patients to have care in that end of Norfolk, you need to approve the plan to keep it there.

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