A list of the "Largest Milwaukee-area acute-care hospitals" appears in Friday's edition of The Business Journal (p.A21). Although the focus is on the ranking by revenues, another column of numbers caught my eye.
For each hospital, the number of "licensed" beds is listed along side the number of "staffed" beds. Cumulatively, in our area there are 7,091 "licensed" beds; only 4,664 are "staffed". In the unlikely event all of the "staffed" beds are actually occupied, could it be our health systems are over built by a third? And, compiled from 2009 information, this particular list doesn't even include the new hospitals in Summit or Grafton.
Coincidentally, on pages A14-15 of this same issue, there is a listing of the 50 "Largest Milwaukee-area private companies". Again, the ranking is by revenues but the number of "local" employees also appears. Noting that six of the top eleven companies are health systems, I found myself doing a little math. All tolled, the 50 companies combined employ 70,123; of that, 51,223 are employed by just the 6 health systems. (Is this where a texter would add OMG!?)
Someone a lot smarter than me might suggest how you squeeze what seems to be significant over capacity out of our area health delivery system. I do read about shortages of nurses and primary care physicians. Maybe if an entire health system shut down, that manpower could be reallocated without imploding the local economy. It's something to think about anyway. I might add, we'll be forced to think about it when the insurance reforms of PPACA fail to lower health care costs.