The beatings will continue until morale improves: Because the state government’s panicked reaction to the Wuhan virus resulting in a banning of almost all procedures, rural hospitals in eastern Washington state now face financial collapse, bankruptcy, and possible closure.
With the state’s support, federal aid and advanced Medicare loans, the critical access hospital will be able to stay afloat – for now. But the financial impact of COVID-19 on Washington state’s rural hospitals cannot be understated. “This is unprecedented. There’s no way you could be financially prepared for this,” Jacqueline Barton True, vice president of rural health programs at the Washington State Hospital Association, said. “This sort of financial devastation is not something that we could have prepared for, and I have a lot of concerns about what happens if help doesn’t come soon enough.”
Some rural hospitals have received their first installment of funds from the federal CARES Act. Those payments are about $400,000 to $600,000 on average for smaller hospitals, according to WSHA.
Despite having a robust way for most rural hospitals to access community taxpayer support through the public hospital district model, rural hospitals in Eastern Washington are losing money on a daily basis as they balance pandemic preparations with canceled elective surgeries, primary care or patient therapy.
The article is long, outlining in frightening detail the impending collapse of the entire rural hospital network. The bottom line however remains the same: The state government arbitrarily decided that most medical procedures were “non-essential” and banned them so that the hospital would not be overwhelmed by Wuhan flu patients.
Those patients have never arrived in the feared numbers however. Instead we are looking at a normal flu season, when you combine coronavirus with flu cases. Lacking the revenue stream from all other cases, the hospitals are losing money and face bankruptcy.
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