Chelsea Hospital Chief Nurse, Cheryl Taylor, Speaks on Changing Landscape of Healthcare


Chelsea Hospital conducted the Chelsea Community Town Hall on Monday, Oct. 16th. Senior leaders spoke on various subjects regarding the hospital’s growth and plans for the future.

Chelsea Hospital's Chief Nursing Officer, Cheryl Taylor, shed light on the changing landscape of healthcare services in the area. The hospital has taken a proactive approach in evaluating and restructuring its services to serve the community better.

“I'm here to share some updates on behavioral health,” Taylor began her address. “We went through some assessments and have identified some opportunities.”

The hospital found that while there is significant demand for behavioral health services, there were limitations like not having enough staff, providers, and stringent regulatory requirements.

“We're not alone,” she stressed. “This is a national trend across the nation. Everybody is having trouble keeping behavioral health units opened and staffed.”

After a careful evaluation, the decision was made to consolidate inpatient behavioral health. Ann Arbor will take on 36 Behavioral Health beds, while Chelsea's unit will close. However, Taylor emphasized Chelsea Hospital’s commitment remains unwavering, and they are coming up with solutions to meet the community's needs. She highlighted plans like creating a safe space in the emergency room for behavioral health patients, funded by Flint philanthropy dollars. “Our goal is to begin treatment in the emergency room while they're waiting to be transferred,” she said.

Chelsea Hospital also aims to bolster outpatient behavioral health services by exploring various opportunities, such as an intensive outpatient program and expanding our existing outpatient behavioral health services. She emphasized the hospital's strategic goals, which revolve around serving more patients "upstream," meaning addressing issues proactively before they escalate to the point of needing inpatient services.

Taylor expressed gratitude for philanthropy dollars, which funded the IDI safe space, which caters to five patients and is designed to make behavioral health safe. She noted that the unique approach to begin treatments in the emergency department can make a significant difference.

On the topic of collaboration, Taylor shared, “We're also working with Trinity Health, IHA, and Ann Arbor to figure out how to collaborate and do more of a regional approach to behavioral health so that we can steward those resources because there's a lot of need out there. And we want to ensure that we have the services we need in all the different areas.”

The hospital is also investing in its rehabilitation services. Taylor announced a $10 million capital investment to expand rehab services at Chelsea, aiming to establish a University of Michigan Chelsea Center of Excellence for Rehab. The hospital aims to open 16 additional rehab beds by the summer of 2024, venturing into new patient areas such as spinal cord and cancer rehab.

On the topic of nursing, Taylor expressed concerns about legislation around the "Safe Nurse Staffing" bill. While it sounds promising, Taylor cautioned, “One of the things these bills will do is decrease our access. So those bills are actually mandated nurse-to-patient ratios. And when you mandate nurse-to-patient ratios, then that's going to decrease the patient access, and it's going to back up our ERs.”

She shed light on the broader challenges in the nursing profession, like the difficulty in producing more nurses due to a lack of instructors and the stringent licensing requirements for out-of-state nurses.

To address these challenges, Chelsea Hospital is exploring innovative solutions like the "Virtual Nurse Program." This program allows an on-floor nurse to be supported by a virtual nurse who can help with paperwork, ask essential questions, and offer experienced insights.

“We'll be looking at a virtual nurse program where we can support our nursing staff in a different way,” said Taylor. “That is our temporary fix until we can get more nurses through the system.”

Photo by Doug Marrin

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