Staffing and Financial Planning for a Busy Public Hospital

With 137 beds, Warmbaths Hospital provided level-one clinical care to the town of Bela Bela and its surrounding community.

In 2009, public hospital’s leadership asked GlobalHealth Lab to assess workloads of its clinical staff and suggest staffing structure improvements to address chronic complaints of overwork. An MIT student team developed a model to evaluate staffing needs in the hospital’s maternity ward through extensive nurse shadowing, process flow mapping, site observations, and staff interviews. The students discovered that a lack of essential medical equipment, rather than nurse understaffing, was constraining patient flow. Optimum nurse staffing levels could not be determined without adequate equipment. The students created a model to calculate the utilization rates of nurses on a regular basis to inform scheduling and hiring and provided recommendations for broader process improvements that would enhance record keeping and integrate cost analysis into regular decision-making practices. After the students left, Warmbaths continued to collect patient flow data in order to inform staffing decisions and day-to-day operation. Financial constraints meant that the hospital would have to wait to obtain needed medical equipment that students suggested would remove bottlenecks in the labor and delivery ward.


Related Content

ghdLAB toolkit: Nurse staffing model for Warmbath’s Hospital

Limpopo Provincial Government, South Africa

MIT Sloan Story: Problem Solving in  Sub-Saharan Africa

Podcast: G-Lab’10: Warmbath Hospital, South Africa

Press: In the world, for the world: MIT Sloan, 2010-11 (see pages 3 and 4)