The report found 90% of the state’s hospitals operated in the red during March and April, largely due to not being able to perform non-essential procedures. Marty Guthmiller, CEO of the Orange City Area Health System, says even with millions in state and federal support, some rural hospitals will close.
Guthmiller says, “While it’s difficult to predict, it’s relatively certain that we will lose some hospitals in Iowa simply because they do not have the capacity to withstand a downturn in revenue.” Guthmiller says the CARES Act funding his rural hospital has received so far has only covered operating expenses for 36 days.
While much of the financial impact is tied to revenue lost when the state halted non-elective procedures, there are other expenses. UnityPoint Des Moines CEO David Stark says his hospitals are still losing a lot of money due to COVID-19 from doing things like staffing entrances to screen for the virus.
“We’re staffing every one of our facilities 24 hours a day and taking temperatures and asking screening questions,” Stark says. “For our organization alone, that’s a $2 million expense that we certainly didn’t plan on.” Stark says his hospital is losing revenue as it continues to limit procedures and set aside beds for COVID-19 patients.
The report was done by a Minneapolis accounting firm and was commissioned by the Iowa Hospital Association.
(By Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio)