CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A nursing shortage at CAMC contributed to a $4 million decrease in the hospital's net revenue last month, the hospital's chief financial officer said.
"October appears to have rebounded, so we think it's just temporary," Larry Hudson said after a meeting Wednesday of the hospital's board of directors.
Officials closed beds at CAMC Memorial last month because of a lack of nurses to care for patients, Hudson said. Closing the beds meant admissions were down for the month, he said.
The hospital has an orientation class of nurses that will move to fulltime work soon, Ramsey said. That means the nurses will be able to care for more patients.
During orientation, the nurses shadow more experienced nurses and take on patient loads gradually. The current orientation class has about 120 nurses, but a typical class has around 170, hospital spokesman Dale Witte said.
CAMC CEO Dave Ramsey attributed the nursing shortage to the economy's recovery from the recession.
When the economy bottomed out, a number of people who had not been working or who had been laid off found work in health care, Ramsey said. As the economy improved, many of those employees found other work, he said.
"Most of the nursing care on the floors is 24 hours, 365 [days a year]," Ramsey said. "Depending on people's life situations, some people just choose not to work in health care because of the difficulty working various shifts and so forth."
Ramsey added that his theory was "nothing more than my guess."
The University of Charleston recently got rid of its two-year associate nursing program, Ramsey said. Mountain State University -- another former source for nursing graduates -- lost its accreditation.
Ramsey was unsure of the total number of nurses at CAMC and how many it would have at full staff.
"We don't want to leave the impression that people that come to the hospital are not going to have adequate nursing care," Ramsey said. "That's why we close beds, to make sure that we have adequate nursing talent to take care of our patients."