Kentucky hospitals have financial concerns during COVID-19

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 3:42 PM EDT
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(WYMT) - Kentucky hospitals have lost a lot of money because of COVID-19. Hospitals canceled procedures and some people afraid of the virus have avoided getting treatment.

That’s what Kentucky lawmakers in an interim legislative panel were told Thursday afternoon.

Fears of health care facilities being overrun with COVID-19 patients and initial lack of PPE had government leaders and public health officials telling hospitals to cancel elective procedures in the spring.

The result of that has been financial hardships on many rural hospitals.

The Kentucky Hospital Association president told lawmakers that hospitals have lost more than $2.5 billion and the federal government has assisted in recovering about half of that.

Hospitals lost their cash flow but the Kentucky Hospital Association President Nancy Galvagni said there has been one hospital that did see the effect of COVID-19 like expected.

King’s Daughters in Ashland for example recently had a surge there that infected everyone from babies to healthy adults and it had their ICU nearing capacity.

Galvagni said, “There are surges going on, one pretty serious up in Ashland. Not aware of where they can run out of beds. They are seeing a surge. That’s what we thought would happen, there would be regional outbreaks.”

Many hospitals though aren’t seeing the expected numbers and need revenue to come in from other places.

Some hospitals like Danville’s Ephraim McDowell designed a special COVID ICU. A doctor there says 5 of 17 beds are being used. Lawmakers were told the bottom line is that people need to once again use their hospitals for all their health care needs, not just for COVID.

“Fear has caused more than just financial loss. We have heard lots of stories about people whose health and life might have been saved had they come to the ER in time,” said Galvagni.

Harrison Memorial had Kentucky’s first COVID-19 patient and as a result, had to cease elective and other procedures more than two weeks before other hospitals.

CEO Sheila Currans of Harrison Memorial said, “We were doing a lot of work, but not making a lot of revenue.” This for a hospital that operates 100 percent from what it takes in from the community it serves.

Currans also said that had it not been for paycheck protection, CARES money, and medicare advances, they would be facing a financial disaster.

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