Small Iowa Hospitals Struggle Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
It's weird. You'd think hospitals would be thriving given the world is in the midst of a medical pandemic right now. The smaller hospitals in Iowa say it's just the opposite. They may not survive without more financial help.
The Gazette reported on details of the Iowa Hospital Association's new analysis report describing the worst-case scenario of $2 billion lost and the potential closures of many of these hospitals. How can this much loss be possible for these essential facilities? During the pandemic, elective procedures were suspended for a while. More people are being forced to receive their routine care through telehealth services rather than in person so that facilities can focus on COVID issues without being overwhelmed. It all adds up to a big subtraction that means the very smallest among Iowa's medical facilities may not survive.
The vast majority of them are operating in the red (losing money) after a 395 percent decline in operating margins in March and April. It's predicted Iowa hospitals will lose between $975 million to $1.26 billion this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
You may say to yourself "hospitals shouldn't be out for a profit!". They do have operating expenses, and the leadership at many hospitals in Iowa are worried about meeting those expenses.
Marty Guthmiller is CEO of the Orange City Area Health System and chairman of the Iowa Hospital Association board of directors. He said he's fairly certain Iowa will lose a hospital because of a decline in revenue.
Tests for vaccines for COVID-19 are underway but could take up to 18 months to be perfected and released, according to experts. Meanwhile, Coronavirus cases may rise again as restrictions are being eased and gatherings of groups are growing as protests continue following the murder of George Floyd. Even the loss of one hospital means the loss of critical workers and services in the medical industry at a moment when our health concerns seem more overwhelming than ever.