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  • I think it's the biggest irony of my career that we're in the middle of a pandemic

  • but we're struggling to keep staff pay and keep the doors open,

  • Covid-19 has completely ravaged hospitals across the country.

  • All across the state, rural hospitals are on the brink of collapse.

  • Two hospitals closing for good, leaving patients and doctors to fend for themselves.

  • Hospital administrators are fearing shortages in staffing and supplies and in cash.

  • The Boston Consulting Group said in a recent report report that during this pandemic, about one out of every five U.S. hospital systems is on the brink of insolvency.

  • The longer this goes on, and when I say that, I'm not talking about months or quarters on the calendar.

  • It's literally weeks because every week that goes by that many more hospitals that are going to be closing.

  • And so it really is that urgent.

  • It's brought to the fore the fragile nature of health care, and rural health care in particular.

  • If you can't keep hospitals, especially in rural West Virginia, rural America,

  • then we've got no money to take care of our citizens.

  • This is Scott Graham.

  • I am the CEO of two hospitals, two small rural hospitals

  • and both of those hospitals have been hit especially hard by Covid-19.

  • This moves so quickly that one day we we're talking about our plans to grow and develop our service lines.

  • And literally the next day we were talking about are we gonna be able to stay in business?

  • Both Three Rivers and North Valley Hospital have been struggling to be profitable long before the Corona virus.

  • Prior to all of this, Three Rivers Hospital, the one located in Brewster, Washington,

  • was really struggling financially and has been for many years, probably two decades.

  • Some of that has to do with the fact that it's located in a very sparsely populated area.

  • So patient volumes are pretty low and we rely on patient volumes for the revenue that we get

  • to cover the cost of the care that we provide.

  • A lot of hospitals in the US have been in dire financial straits for a while now.

  • We know that at least 30 hospitals entered bankruptcy last year alone,

  • and that's just a continuation of a trend that's been going on for several years.

  • About 120 or so rural critical access hospitals have closed since 2010.

  • To understand why hospitals are in so much trouble, you have to understand how they make their money.

  • Hospitals and physicians are paid really by three primary payers.

  • Medicaid, Medicare and then commercial insurance.

  • There's obviously patients who pay for their own services, but that's a very small portion of how hospitals and physicians are paid.

  • Nearly 80 percent of hospitals revenue is generated by high margin specialized surgical procedures.

  • The best example would be orthopedic knee, knee elbows, shoulders, a total joints.

  • Those are typically called elective procedures because they can actually wait.

  • They don't need to be done emergently.

  • We have general surgeons who do a variety of different types of surgical procedures from colonoscopies to endoscopies

  • to appendectomies and those sorts of things.

  • And usually those do well enough that they can make up the difference for what our other services don't.

  • Once Covid-19 hit, those moneymaking elective surgeries vanished.

  • The surge of Covid-19 in southeast Michigan is having a chilling effect on the health systems non corona virus services.

  • The impact is leading to some hospital staff members losing their jobs.

  • Both speaking for hospitals and also for physicians, it's obviously chaos.

  • There have been rapid changes in the law in the last four to five weeks since the pandemic was declared.

  • They have not been allowed to do what they call elective procedures.

  • So anything that can wait has to wait.

  • Compounding the problem of no more elective procedures are patients without Covid-19 avoiding hospitals altogether.

  • What I hear across the board from my hospital clients around the country,

  • because we have a national practice,

  • is that the number of patients that are in their hospital is at least one half,

  • if not greater than what it normally is at this time of the year.

  • And if a hospital closes in an urban area, it might be difficult for the community but not a catastrophe.

  • The same can't be said for hospitals in rural areas.

  • The hospital has a symbiotic relationship with the community.

  • We not only provide care and very much needed care.

  • We not only save lives every day, but we provide a livelihood for many of the folks who live and work in these communities.

  • We employ nurses and doctors and surgery, tax and housekeepers and dietary folks,

  • and they all live in these communities and contribute to the economy.

  • And we're we to no longer be able to exist.

  • There would be a large gaping hole in the economy here in Okanogan County.

  • Hospitals are not just one of the most important health care providers in America

  • They're also one of the largest employers in America.

  • So with all these hospitals on the brink of insolvency, the government had to step in.

  • We haven't seen that flood of bankruptcy filings that may come yet.

  • And in part, that's because the government recently passed this multi-trillion dollar stimulus bill.

  • The 2.2 trillion dollar CARES Act is comprehensive and absolutely needed.

  • A significant amount of this money will go to the hospitals and hot spots.

  • While a portion of it will reimburse hospitals for the cost of treating uninsured patients and for the Corona virus.

  • There was about a hundred billion dollars allotted to hospitals across the country.

  • We're very grateful that the CARES Act was passed.

  • And it has provided some initial help, though, it is not sufficient to get us through this.

  • Three Rivers Hospital got about 307,000 dollars from the CARES money

  • and that will give us nearly a month's worth of cash on hand.

  • It really is just a Band-Aid right now for the greater financial crisis to do the healthcare industry.

  • So while the first round of federal aid has helped. The problem is far from being solved.

  • Hospitals are getting an additional $75 billion as part of the latest

  • bailout package approved by Congress on April 23,

  • But it still may be be enough. More government aid could be needed as the pandemic continues.

  • This really affects every physician, every dentist, every health care professional in the country.

  • I think what this is helped people realize is even hospitals may not be there if we don't take care to help them be there.

  • Obviously, we're going to need more and we hope that that support continues.

  • But actually, it's it's given me a lot of hope.

I think it's the biggest irony of my career that we're in the middle of a pandemic

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為什麼美國醫院處於危急狀態? (Why U.S. Hospitals are in Critical Condition)

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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