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New Hampshire hospitals losing millions due to COVID-19

Concord Monitor
Published: 8/9/2020 9:06:56 PM
Modified: 8/9/2020 9:06:54 PM

New Hampshire hospitals have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to COVID-19. Now, they may have to make cuts.

Kathy Bizarro-Thunberg, the executive vice president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, said providers in New Hampshire collectively lost $575 million in revenue between March and July.

As COVID-19 spread through the United States, New Hampshire hospitals closed nonessential units almost overnight. Some of the most profitable services for hospitals, such as nonessential surgeries and cardiac care, were paused for months.

While the number of patients coming in for appointments has gradually increased over the last few months, experts say hospitals could lose $700 million by the end of the calendar year.

Through the federalCARES Act, New Hampshire hospitals were given $300 million in aid. That leaves them about $300 million in the red.

Alex Walker, the chief operating officer at Catholic Medical Center, said his hospital is projected to lose $40 million by the end of September, even with CARES Act funding.

The Manchester hospital has been at the epicenter of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, with 30% of all hospitalized coronavirus patients in the state.

Yet, Walker said they’ve received less than 10% of the state’s federal relief funding for hospitals.

During the first federal round of funding, money went toward hospitals at the center of COVID-19 hotspots.

That was about a month before Manchester started experiencing a surge in cases.

In the second round of federal funding, money went toward hospitals in rural areas of the state, excluding Catholic Medical Center from getting significant amounts of relief.

“We’re on the unlucky end of the law of unintended consequences,” he said.

As a result, the hospital has had to make sacrifices. In April, the hospital furloughed hundreds of staff members. Last week, it laid off 71 employees, reduced hours for 40 positions and froze hiring for all nonessential positions.

“COVID has had a devastating effect on our finances,” he said. “It’s had an impact on hospitals in New Hampshire but for us in particular, we’ve been at ground zero.”

This trend is not unique to New Hampshire.

American hospitals are losing an average of $50.7 billion a month, according to the American Hospital Association.

A study conducted by the AHA found that the loss could be primarily attributed to canceled surgeries, the additional cost of personal protective equipment, and providing hospital workers with support like child care and medical screening.

The possibility of another surge of COVID-19 in New Hampshire also looms in the consciousness of hospital administrators.

Hospitals can only start to recover if their profitable services are open to the public.

Some providers are trying to develop plans to keep their non-essential services open even if there is a second wave of the virus.

Scott Sloane, the Chief Financial Officer of Concord Hospital considers himself lucky — his hospital is breaking even this year. Although the hospital lost about $30 million since the start of the pandemic, it has received nearly the same amount in funding from the CARES Act.

Sloane said he expects it to take about two years before the hospital makes a full financial recovery.




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