Rural hospitals get much needed relief thanks to Colorado Senators

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WRAY, Colo. (KDVR) — In Colorado’s smallest communities, access to healthcare can be the difference between life and death.

With Colorado hospitals projected to lose more than $3 billion by the end of the year, small rural hospitals are in danger of going under without financial aid.

Elective surgeries are major sources of revenue for hospitals, and with those procedures temporarily paused through the month of April, smaller hospitals took a big hit.

“It was about a 75 percent reduction in our revenues,” said Wray Community District Hospital CEO John Hart. “It would be very hard to keep the doors open for a prolonged period of time based on that kind of reduced revenue.”

Wray Community District Hospital is one of 32 Critical Access Hospitals in Colorado, which mainly serve elderly and vulnerable populations in rural areas.

According to Sen. Cory Gardner, several of those hospitals had weeks, if not merely days, of cash reserves with the lack of revenue coming in.

“If you were to see that go away, it would cost lives and that’s why they’re so critically important to our communities,” Gardner said.

To make matters more complicated, Critical Access Hospitals told Gardner when applying for the Paycheck Protection Program they weren’t eligible.

Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet started making calls, and pushed to have that rule changed.

“I have not seen in the 34 years that I’ve worked in healthcare in rural facilities, the kind of swift action that has helped urban, but most especially has been helping the rural frontier hospitals,” Hart said.

Hart says they successfully applied for a PPP loan, and now have that cash on hand. Wray Community District Hospital has been able to keep every employee on staff without furloughs or layoffs, despite the major loss in revenue.

While Hart says the loan doesn’t cover all their financial losses from April, it makes a significant difference to keep the community healthy and informed during the coronavirus pandemic.

You can learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program here.

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