Weighing in on ICU at the VA
As a long-time retired intensive/critical care unit nurse, I feel inclined to add my two cents to the VA-ICU discussion.
The veterans association seems to think that if the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center wanted to, itcould pump money and personnel into the ICU and reopen it. This is a false assumption based on lack of medical knowledge and understanding.
An ICU is only as good as its well-trained, experienced nursing staff. To maintain one’s critical care expertise and knowledge, nurses need daily experience with critical care patients.
It is impossible for a 24-hour nursing staff to maintain its skills if there are only one or two patients at a time in the ICU.
While I do not know how many critical care patients were treated at any given time at the VA, if there were not minimally three or four patients daily in the unit, then it is doubtful that the VA could properly staff an ICU 24 hours a day with adequately trained nurses. Even if it could hire the qualified staff, lack of daily experience would soon cause that staff to lose its expertise. There is no way to get around the fact that being a good critical care nurse requires daily delivery of critical care to maintain one’s expertise.
Having a formal contract with Mercy (which does have a high enough daily ICU census to support a well-trained critical care nursing staff) would seem to be safest choice for veteran patients requiring ICU care in Roseburg.