Monday, March 02, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic could hurt rural hospitals' access to supplies, financial stability

Rural hospitals are starting to feel the effects of the coronavirus, and it could get a lot worse. "They sit furthest from international airports and urban hubs where outbreaks are more likely, but they are at the tail end of supply chains for vital medical goods such as protective masks and gowns," Christopher Rowland reports for The Washington Post. "In addition to preparing for victims and the demands of protecting health-care workers from infection, fragile hospital networks also are readying for disruptions to the bottom line. If the spreading coronavirus puts heavy demand on health systems, billable work that keeps revenue flowing on a weekly basis to hospitals small and large will be curtailed, executives said." That could devastate rural hospitals, many of which are already operating on thin margins or in the red.

The American Hospital Association asked Congress earlier this week to pass emergency funding, between $4 billion and $8.5 billion, to help hospitals deal with anticipated costs. "In the event of widespread sickness, costs would soar for isolation rooms for infected patients, equipment, and training," Rowland reports. "Rural facilities, far from medical warehouses, are feeling the effects first as the health systems has begun rationing certain supplies. The likelihood of a coronavirus victim showing up in the emergency room remains low in these places but the possibility of economic ripple effects are real."

No comments: