Local hospitals contending with severe economic shortfalls from COVID-19

Walter Perez Image
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
A recent report details how COVID-19-related financial losses for hospitals across Pennsylvania will expectedly top $10 billion.

READING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A recent report projects COVID-19-related financial losses for hospitals across Pennsylvania will top $10 billion.

Andy Carter, President and CEO of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania who commissioned the report, said that might only be the beginning.

"The fact that, going forward, we don't know what to expect in terms of a second or third, or more, waves of the pandemic means that financial uncertainty can be very damaging to their future," Carter said.

In fact, some local hospital systems have already made the difficult decision to furlough or even lay off employees.

Tower Health has announced the elimination of 1,000 positions system-wide, after reporting a 40% drop in revenue, which includes the closure of the maternity unit at Pottstown Hospital.

The Action News data journalism team found that Tower Health actually received the 9th most federal stimulus money for hospitals in the state, nearly $85 million.

James Brexler, President and CEO of the relatively smaller Doylestown Health, said he is not announcing any layoffs yet, but so far, he has only received $6.5 million worth of CARES Act funding.

"That's to cover what we anticipate to be roughly about a $35 million loss between net revenue and additional expenses that were incurred just in the 2.5 months that we had to manage the peak of this," Brexler said.

These shortfalls are the result of several factors including the post-COVID cancellations of elective surgeries, fewer patients seeking care for serious ailments due to fear of exposure, and an increase in the number of people uninsured after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

For the recently uninsured, Carter said, "Hopefully they are turning to their exchanges to get healthcare through them, but that takes time, and it's a source of future stress on the healthcare delivery system."

Many medical officials adding, at this point, they simply don't know how this is going to pan out in the long run. One thing is for sure though, the economic crisis they are currently enduring is not sustainable.