Clayton News-Star

Hospital to phase in services at Clayton inpatient wing

When Johnston Health opens its new hospital wing in January, not all new services will be available right away.

For instance, patients needing acute care might initially be transferred to Johnston Health’s main campus in Smithfield. Johnston Health explains that it will need time to hire and and train the right people for its expanded Clayton hospital.

The new wing will require an additional 175 to 200 employees. Dr. Donald Pocock, Johnston Health’s vice president of medical affairs, said more than 2,000 people have applied for those jobs.

“We are very busy,” he said.

“You can imagine just interviewing all the people that responded and applied – that’s a huge amount of work.”

Johnston Health, which has operated an emergency room, lab and same-day surgery center in Clayton since 2009, is nearly done building a three-story, 50-bed inpatient wing at its medical campus on N.C. 42 West.

Even after the 2009 opening, many Clayton patients continued to visit the Smithfield hospital, so Johnston Health asked the state to transfer 50 beds to the new wing. The transfer application was one of two ways the hospital could get approval to open the expansion, Pocock said. The other option was to apply for a separate license for Clayton.

With the bed transfer, the Clayton and Smithfield hospitals will operate under the same license, meaning new hires will be expected to provide services at both locations, Pocock said. That condition could become a burden, logistically, for any medical staff who work in other hospitals throughout the Triangle.

“It isn’t that they are unable to get down here, but they would get spread so thin by working in Raleigh, Clayton and Smithfield,” Pocock said. “Some work in Durham as well.”

Hospitalist hours to grow

Hospitalists, or in-house doctors who care for most patients during their hospital stay, will initially be on hand 18 to 19 hours a day at the new wing. Pocock said their hours will grow as demand increases.

“The goal is by the time we are using at least half or maybe more of those beds in Clayton, we will have recruited and employed adequate hospitalists that will be employed 24/7,” he said.

Hospitalists typically care for patients whose hospital stays are unscheduled. Patients on a scheduled visit, such as surgical patients, are cared for by a different type of doctor.

While hospitalists won’t be on hand around the clock initially, an emergency room doctor will still be on site 24/7. Also, hospitalists can come to the hospital in the case of an emergency, Pocock said.

Internal applicants

About 60 employees who currently work for Johnston Health in Smithfield applied for jobs at the Clayton inpatient wing. Hospital spokeswoman Suzette Rodriguez said most of the employees want to work closer to home.

Rodriguez said if Johnston Health sees a need, it will back-fill the openings created by workers moving from Smithfield to Clayton.

In an internal newsletter, Johnston Health’s recruiter, Ashley Drotzur, said the health system plans to fill the new jobs by the first week in December.

Of the nearly 200 new jobs in Clayton, about 90 are nursing positions, and about 100 are support roles like secretaries, technicians and transporters.