Medical may cut overnight care

Community care proposed

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MIT Medical may cut overnight services and open a “Community Care Center.”
The Tech File Photo

MIT Medical has proposed to eliminate its inpatient unit and close its overnight urgent care services by the end of 2010. The space vacated by the inpatient unit would be filled with a new “Community Care Center.”

Urgent care currently operates 24 hours a day but would close between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. under the proposed plan. During these hours trained nurses would run a phone service to advise community members and direct them to local hospitals for overnight care.

Community Care Center nurses would also provide on-site transient care services during the day, coordinate care and hospital discharge plans for patients, organizing community-wide vaccine clinics, and visit sick students in dorms and fraternity, sorority, and living group houses.

Medical would lay off some nurses by eliminating overnight urgent care and the inpatient unit, but Director of MIT Medical William M. Kettyle said he could not provide an estimate of exactly how many nurses would lose their jobs or how much money Medical would save.

Data collected by Medical in 2009 shows that only 2.6 percent of urgent care visits occurred between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Of these visits, “many...are for convenience, not clinical emergencies,” according the Medical website. And, on average, only 10 percent of beds in the inpatient unit were filled at once.

Kettyle said the changes would be rolled out gradually: Nurses would start to provide Community Care Center services during the fall of 2010 before the inpatient unit and overnight urgent care close in order to assess the efficacy of the new system before fully committing to it.

The new system will likely be “a way of taking advantage of what’s available that’s in operation 24-7 and making best use of facilities while still providing on-campus service,” Kettyle said. The changes would allow Medical to “maximiz[e] resource utilization,” he said.

More resources would be allocated to following up with patients, Kettyle said, by “work[ing] closely with housemasters, residential advisors, Housing, Dining Services, and other campus resources to make sure that sick students in dorms and FSILGs are getting appropriate monitoring and care” and provide optional house visits, at the student’s discretion.

“Sometimes connecting the dots for students is a bit of a challenge,” said Clinical Director for Campus Life Maryanne Kirkbride. By expanding the current care management program, Medical will more likely be able to monitor and accommodate student recovery and health, she said.

Kettyle said the cost of visiting off-campus hospitals would stay the same for students using the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan.

Student directed to local hospitals during overnight hours, however, will be under the jurisdiction of the hospital’s confidentially policy rather than Medical’s.