Missouri hospitals losing millions of dollars each day

2 months 3 weeks 3 days ago Thursday, April 16 2020 Apr 16, 2020 Thursday, April 16, 2020 5:01:00 PM CDT April 16, 2020 in News
By: Michael Van Schoik, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Hospitals across the state and country are preoccupied with COVID-19, causing many elective procedures and many routine practices to be put on hold. The lack of these additional procedures is causing hospitals to lose millions of dollars each day.

Dave Dillon, of the Missouri Hospital Association, said hospitals across the state are losing nearly $32 million a day. The number is substantial, adding up to almost one billion dollars each month.

"It's an absolutely debilitating lack of business," he said. 

According to Dillon, in-patient numbers are down by 40%, while out-patient numbers are down by roughly 60%. 

He said federal funding to support the healthcare industry has been a positive factor, and it has helped. But he said even with federal funding, hospitals are still far below the norm. 

"Unfortunately, that doesn't even bring us back to where we were before the crisis," Dillon said. "What happens with the next funding of this will matter and will help us bridge. But it's likely over the course of time hospital finances are going to be really tight."

With such a shortage of revenue, Dillon said furloughs and layoffs are a reality. 

"Until we see that the numbers start coming back up for regular hospital care on chronic illnesses and procedures that are preventive and all those kind of things, until we see that happen, we are going to have to make tough decisions on staffing," he said.

He also said rural hospitals and medical facilities may be experiencing budgetary issues disproportionately because they already have fewer assets in general. Those hospitals also may not be dealing with high numbers of COVID-19 related cases. 

"They are seeing less in the way of revenue that is generated from the crisis," Dillon said.

MU Health Care Associate Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mark Wakefield, said MU Health Care and other hospitals were able to quickly slow down operations to essential practices. He said it will be essential that returning to the "new normal" is done slowly.

"Now we have to thoughtfully turn back on without risking and undoing the benefit of social distancing," Wakefield said. "If you think about all the sacrifices people have made; personal, economic, a lot of inconvenience. But if we undo that social distancing too quickly then there is a risk for a second surge." 

Dave Dillon also said until there is enough personal protective equipment to safely restore elective surgeries, there is no saying when they will be able to happen again. But he said when things settle, every hospital fully intends to help people with the needs they still have. 

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