Rural hospitals see layoffs after ban on elective procedures

COVID-19 impact on rural hospitals

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Some Alabama rural hospitals laid off workers after the statewide health order prohibited elective procedures.

Alabama Rural Health Association Executive Director Ryan Kelly said elective procedures provide a large portion of income for some hospitals and clinics. Some of them have had to furlough or lay off non-essential personnel.

“It’s very sad,” Kelly said. “Many of the procedures that they normally have are not allowed.”

Dr. Melissa Thompson is a hospitalist at Elmore Community Hospital. Thompson said elective procedures make up about 50 percent of the cash flow. She said Ivey Creek Healthcare had to cut 25 percent of its staff across the board between both of its hospitals.

“We were anticipating that we wouldn’t be able to meet payroll,” Thompson said. “That is a concern. As we see more COVID-19 patients we’ll need these people to come back into the hospital if they’re available and help us.”

Kelly hopes Congress appropriates money to help rural hospitals during this time.

“This is why we need this critical funding from the federal government to come through and reinforce our facilities while we’re treating for COVID-19,” he said.

In the meantime, medical professions like Dr. Thompson encourage people to still visit the hospital if it is an emergency.

“With the guidelines to stay home, there may be people that are truly ill that need to come into the hospital to get the care that they would in a non-COVID type of situation,” Thompson said.

If you develop symptoms for the coronavirus and need to be tested, call 1-888-264-2256.

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