MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As hospitals work around the clock to take care of patients, they are facing another battle - dwindling revenues.
The coronavirus has impacted nearly all people and businesses - hospitals are not exempt. UAB reported it was losing $70 million a month. For smaller hospitals that number was around $1 million per month.
UAB furloughed workers, East Alabama Medical Center’s leadership team took a temporary paycut. This is because they had to stop elective procedures.
“Clearly, eliminating elective procedures in the short term, create a major financial problem for a lot of hospitals.," said Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson.
Williamson says now, that hospitals can once again perform those procedures. It will certainly help, but he says it won’t solve the problem.
“We’ve also seen just reduced volumes at all hospitals, because people just didn’t come in for the same thing only this week. People historically show up in the ER for chest pain. Now, I doubt that represents a decline in the occurrence of heart attack just represents people simply didn’t want to run the risk of getting exposed to have their chest pain evaluated," said Williamson. “So, those are all challenges as we go forward.”
Going forward, how hospitals recover from this pandemic, Dr. Williamson says, will be challenging.
”We’re going to be trying to devise a system that can survive the next pandemic, because I think what this pandemic shows us is that we are not immune in our 21st Century to the problems that have faced mankind for millennia, and, and so we’re gonna have to rethink how we have devised and funded our healthcare system,” said Williamson.
The CARES Act passed by Congress will provide some funds to hospitals, but Williamson says less than half of the money from the CARES Act has gone to hospitals.
He says Alabama hospitals are prepared to take care of patients. He says there are enough medical supplies to treat patients now, and in the future.