Hospitals face tough choices: cut, dive into reserves or seek partnerships
In mid-March, as Oregon health officials braced for a crush of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Kate Brown ordered hospitals to postpone elective surgeries to ensure adequate bed space and equipment for coronavirus patients.
But even after the ban on non-emergency procedures was lifted May 1, patients are still staying away from hospitals. As a result, many hospitals say they are struggling to bring in even a fraction of the patient revenue they typically earn.
Officials at these hospitals are pleading with Oregon lawmakers and Congress to speed up the delivery of promised financial assistance. But they're also warning that relief funding in the pipeline isn't enough to stem unprecedented losses from the cancellation of lucrative non-emergency procedures.
"Hospitals are having to wrestle with how to maintain a workforce when the facility does not have work for staff to do or revenue coming in to maintain their employment," executives at small and mid-sized hospitals and the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems said in a letter to Brown last month. The letter said many Oregon hospitals were facing 40-to-60-percent revenue declines.
While they wait, smaller hospitals in particular face difficult choices: cut costs by reducing staff amid a time of unprecedented uncertainty, dip into limited reserve funds or even look to a bigger hospital system for help.
This Lund Report story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.
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