Colorado hospitals projected to lose $3B in 2020, small hospitals could close

Coronavirus

Denver (KDVR) — The Colorado Hospital Association is projecting COVID-19 will cost state hospitals $3.1 billion by the end of the year and could force some hospitals to close. 

With elective surgeries and other procedures shut down since early March, hospitals big and small have felt the impact. 

Centura Health, which operates Porter Adventist and St. Anthony Hospital, is reporting a decline in revenue of roughly $25 million each week. 

SCL Health, which operates Lutheran Medical Center, among others, says it’s lost $90 million in revenue since mid-March. 

“Our No. 1 goal is to make sure hospitals don’t close because of the COVID crisis,” says Katherine Mulready.

Mulready is the CSO for the Colorado Hospital Association, which says dozens of rural hospitals across Colorado could be at risk of closing. 

“We’ve stopped doing elective surgeries, which is frankly the life-line of a hospital,” says Montrose Memorial Hospital CEO James Kiser.

The hospital has converted its surgery center into additional COVID-19 beds, and says the loss of surgery revenue is costing the small hospital $4-5 million a month. 

With no major financial backing, he isn’t sure how the hospital will survive.

“Absent a government bailout, I don’t see an answer for hospitals,” he says. 

According to the CHA, 47 of Colorado’s 81 acute care hospitals are considered “vulnerable”, meaning their net patient service margins are below 4%. 

“About 40% of our rural, vulnerable hospitals had less than 50 days cash on hand going into this crisis,” says Mulready. “They may be getting to the point where they’re really trying to figure out what to cut back on to keep their doors open.”

Kiser says Montrose Memorial has some cash on hand, but not enough to survive long term.
This week, they started performing some elective surgeries. 

“It’s a juggling act. We’re trying to do something that can save us,” he says. “but at the same time, be safe, as we have all along.”

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