My one lucky prize

GruntDoc's got a neat little post up how he infers his hospital's census:

My way to work goes through one of our myriad basement areas, the one where empty beds are stored.  I’ve seen literally none, and a lot.
The other night there were so many I couldn’t believe it. Our count is down. This, too, shall pass.
Follow the link for dramatic photo evidence.

These sorts of indicators are fun -- almost as elegant as the Ambient Orb sitting on the desk of Beth Israel Deaconess CEO Paul Levy, gently alerting him to the status of the emergency department waiting room.

Though I can access my emergency department's information system from home, and thus check ED crowding before my shift (if I see lots of admitted patients waiting for upstairs beds, the hospital's pretty full), I rarely do so. I'd much prefer the Orb's distilled, wordless updates to the information overload from our EDIS.

The other day, I got a new kind of indicator about the hospital's census. I had admitted a patient with a history of MRSA to an isolation bed, only to learn a short while later he was ready to go upstairs. This was surprising, as isolation beds are in short supply and patients frequently wait many hours in the ED for one (if not a day or more). In fact, the floor nurse was suspicious I had listed him incorrectly to a regular room, with a vulnerable roommate.

I called our bedboard to make sure they got the right listing. They told me the census was low enough to permit them to turn double-bed rooms into single isolation rooms (in college we called these "dingles"). I don't think I'd ever heard of that happening in our hospital, before -- though like GruntDoc I realized this, too, would pass.