CFVH Covid-19 Update - 4/20/20
April 20, 2020
Is Our Hospital Going to be OK?
With all that has been going on with the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been hearing this question fairly frequently lately. My answer is always the same – our hospital will manage through this difficult time, as we have through others before. I want to take the opportunity to share some of the challenges we are facing and our responses to them.
The news is filled with stories about the stress that healthcare facilities and providers are enduring as they respond to this crisis. At CFVH, we have been actively planning our response to the potential for Covid in our area for weeks, but as we know, to date we have not had any cases (thankfully!). If, and when, we have an infected patient, we will be prepared. We have also taken great effort to protect our most vulnerable population at the hospital, our Long Term Care residents.
The biggest challenge that CFVH is facing is that very little is going on right now. We have postponed all elective services, which in normal times are a main source of financial support. The community is “sheltering in place” and they are avoiding visiting the hospital unless it is an emergency. Even our emergency room traffic is down. As a result, our services are down up to 50%, depending on the area. Our revenue through the first two weeks of April was about 32% less than the same period last year.
Although we have basic core staffing requirements to keep the hospital poised to take care of patients 24 hours per day, we are largely a volume-driven enterprise. When we see fewer patients, we find we have excess staff to meet their needs. We have asked every manager to thoughtfully evaluate the current needs in their area, and adjust staffing on a daily basis to meet the demand, which has resulted in some low census hours reductions. Ultimately, we recognize that our employees are our single greatest asset, this is a temporary situation, and we fully expect activity to ramp up to normal once the shelter in place order is lifted. In the meantime, if individual employees are left with short hours on a weekly basis, they are encouraged to take advantage of the expanded unemployment benefits that are available for “job attached” employees. Our Senior Leadership Team is committed, that although we may need to adjust hours to meet activity on a temporary basis, to NOT terminate any employee for non- disciplinary reasons in the foreseeable future.
In response to the pandemic, our government and private payers have expanded coverage for telemedicine to help patients seek care while staying at home. We worked with our Epic (Electronic Health Record Software) partners, and quickly put things in place for our clinic providers to provide telemedicine visits to their patients.
There are various programs available through the Federal government to assist financially with the Covid pandemic. We are staying abreast of all the developments around Federal funding and will take advantage of those programs that are appropriate and make sense for our hospital.
It seems like every month I read of another rural hospital closing. In fact, 125 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. CFVH is in a fortunate situation. Through the good work of our wonderful team of providers, managers and staff, we have built a sound financial base for our hospital. Our commitment is to continue to manage wisely to ensure that we can continue our mission of caring for the residents of Sanders County long into the future.
Gregory S. Hanson, MD, CFVH President/CEO