Tennessee hospitals say the ban on elective procedures during the coronavirus shutdown has cost them $1 billion a month, collectively — more than half of their typical monthly revenue of $1.7 billion.
An analysis by the Tennessee Hospital Association finds that revenues have plummeted for both inpatient and outpatient services, while the cost of personal protective equipment like masks and gowns spiked because of the short supply. Cookeville Regional Medical Center has furloughed 400 employees, Maury Regional Medical Center furloughed 340 and TriStar closed everything but the emergency department at its Ashland City hospital.
“These facilities have maintained expensive operations in preparation for and to serve COVID-19 patients while experiencing a dramatic drop in volume and services that typically comprise their core business,” THA president Wendy Long said in a release. “This creates a paradox of hospitals experiencing severe financial strain when their services are most needed.”
There’s particular concern for 60 hospitals in the state that are already operating with no profit margin.
Hospitals started putting off non-essential procedures even before the signing of Executive Order 15, which was intended to help preserve PPE and ventilators.
The state has set aside $10 million to help bridge struggling rural hospitals with $500,000 grants, until federal money arrives.
“The reality is the impact is so massive that more assistance will be needed in order to ensure continuity of operations at hospitals and provide a necessary level of care,” Long says. “Now more than ever, Tennesseans need their hospitals to remain open and caring for their community.”