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PDH: Understaffing a Possible Factor in Deaths at CRMC

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 10, 2011

Several employees told state investigators that an emergency department supervisor who had repeatedly complained to management about the chronic understaffing was fired. "We all fear for our jobs because corporate will fire at will with no reason," a hospital worker identified as EMP9 told state investigators. Another unnamed worker said nurses were afraid.  "This is an unsafe place to work and management is aware," EMP18 said.

John Kristel, CEO at Carlisle Regional Medical Center, said in a media statement that the hospital "takes the findings of a recent state Health Department report very seriously."

"However, we take great exception to the notion that the regrettable deaths of two patients may have been related to staffing issues at the hospital," Kristel said in a prepared statement. "We look at our staffing levels on a continuous basis and at this juncture we have no reason to believe that these deaths were in any way connected to staffing levels. Our deepest sympathies go out to the two families involved."

Kristel conceded that "like most other Pennsylvania hospitals, we face challenges with our staffing levels for nurses from time to time." He said the hospital recently hired more nurses, and "will continue to take steps to insure appropriate staffing."

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