Addressing Understaffing and Long Patient Wait Times
On April 18, more than a dozen radiology and ultrasound technicians testified before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee. The technicians work at Zuckerberg SF General (ZSFGH) and Laguna Honda Hospitals, where patients are suffering long wait times because of understaffing in radiology and ultrasound departments.
“Working at SF General is like working on the front lines,” testified Mark Rose, who’s been a radiology tech for 15 years. Mark spoke about the stressful yet highly rewarding work he does at the Trauma 1 hospital, but that , “understaffing inhibits our ability to take care of patients.”
At ZSFGH, techs receive world-class training but because of the lack of competitive wages and advancement opportunities, a majority of new recruits leave for competing hospitals shortly after receiving the training. This results understaffing and contributes to long wait times for patients to receive life-saving screenings.
At ZFGH, the number of days that patient wait are far beyond industry standards. As of last week, 396 patients were waiting for CT scans. The acceptable number for the healthcare industry is 75.
Nancy Toscano, the lead tech at the Avon Breast Center, spoke about the consequences of the recruitment and retention issue for breast cancer diagnostics , “We’ve been operating at the bare minimum. If someone is sick or on vacation, we are short.”
The techs are urging hospital administrators to create a career ladder for experienced techs by adding extra pay steps, in addition to creating 17 new positions by converting registry and overtime hours to permanent positions.