The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will begin covering inpatient cruises on approved vessels in a continuing effort to decrease hospital acquired infection (HAI) rates and increase patient satisfaction. The new medical care centers, known as HOSPITALity Lines will feature all the same stuff as other hospitals, just on a boat.
Hospitals are applauding the move, citing it as a natural transition in care. “We’ve been shipping patients off to nursing homes for years, might as well ship them to Cancun,” stated Fred Bloom, CEO of Nation’s Health, one of the largest Not-for-Profit healthcare systems in the nation, whose flagship hospital will be the first to launch the new initiative. The bank is floating a loan for the first year, says Bloom.
Bloom recently showed the press the hospital’s debut 1,000+ passenger cruise ship, the Have Mercy, which will set sail in summer, 2019. “We have room for over a thousand patients, but we are ‘targeting zero,’” he stated. Bloom calls this new venture in medicine a paradigm shift. “We used to call really sick patients ‘train wrecks,’ but now we think of them as ‘ship wrecks.’ When they come through the ED we used to say, ‘oh boy!’ but now say ‘oh buoy!’”
Other changes effective immediately: Emergency department physicians will now be referred to as LPs: Life Preservers. Orthopedic physicians are Cast Aways. Critical Care will be known as the I Sea You. Patients will no longer have central venous catheters; they will only have ports.
On board dining includes a coffee shop, Venti-Later, which is fully staffed by respiratory therapists who offer nebulized caffeine or espresso shots (in 23- or 21-gauge sizes). The hub of nightlife is the S-BAR, where no handoff is complete without non-alcoholic drinks and IM Ativan (as needed) for those seeking a party lifestyle approved by CMS. On the top deck is the Float Pool, where Life Guards™ are nurses. “We pay them twice as much as our regular nurses, and they work whenever they want!” notes Bloom.
The cruise ships are revenue neutral. A recent cost-saving LEAN initiative involved turning Ambu-bags into arm flotation devices for inexperienced swimmers: “Now grandma has Floatees when she swims, just like little Jimmy,” notes Bloom. Patient and crew safety is the #1 Priority, according to Bloom, who says each patient is fitted with his or her own LifeVest from Medtronic.
Bloom says they hope to add two more vessels in 2020. When asked if having three cruising vessels to manage was too much, he said, “If three vessel dis-ease arises, we always have cardiology.”