Bayfront Health Seven Rivers

Bayfront Health Seven Rivers 

As Florida watches the grim rise of coronavirus cases, the state’s hospitals are cancelling non-essential surgeries to make space for future patients with the potentially deadly COVID-19.

To do that many hospitals will have to forfeit a significant revenue stream when they delay surgeries that often make up nearly half of their income. Industry experts also warn that hospitals strapped for income could lay off staff to make up the difference.

But Bayfront Seven Rivers hospital in Crystal River told the Chronicle that is not in its facility’s future and it will provide health care as normal.  

“Our hospital is still providing emergency, inpatient and ICU care, as well as critical surgical procedures, but we have postponed non-urgent surgeries and procedures. We are carefully managing staffing, flexing schedules and reassigning personnel to other areas of the hospital so we have the resources to maintain operations should the projected surge in COVID-19 patients occur,” said Jennifer Siem, system director of marketing and public relations for Bayfront Health Seven Rivers hospital and other Community Health Systems facilities.

“Our goal is to ensure the safety of our caregivers and to protect the long-term health of our hospital,” she said.

Strata Decision Technology, an industry consultant, warned this week that cutting back on elective surgeries will take a toll despite the federal government’s efforts to create a financial care package to offer hospitals financial relief.

The U.S. Senate early Thursday passed a $2 trillion emergency package to help businesses, citizens, and hospitals. The House is expected to take up the measure Friday.

This is how the proposal will help hospitals including ones such as Bayfront Health Seven Rivers and Citrus Memorial Hospital if lawmakers in the House approve it.

The stimulus package includes nearly $120 billion for hospitals, according to the American Hospital Association,

That money would be earmarked for public health to reimburse health care providers for lost revenues related to the coronavirus. Of that, about $65 billion would go to hospitals, with the rest funneled to doctors, nurses, suppliers and others, the association said.

Under the plan Medicare also boosts reimbursements by 20% for treating senior citizen patients with coronavirus.

But Strata Decision Technology warned that even with billions in new funding hospitals could still lose well over $1,000 per COVID-19 patient.

It may not be known until it’s all over how much hospitals lose or how much the emergency package will help, but without the help Strata Decision Technology warned that most hospitals’ future would be dire.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a week ago that non-essential medical procedures be delayed.

Before the Senate passed its proposed relief package Thursday, Siem said “COVID-19 is already having a financial impact on all hospitals. We need Congress to pass a stimulus and relief package for hospitals and healthcare workers impacted by the pandemic.’

Meanwhile, health care facilities continue to search for more personal protection equipment such as disposable gowns and masks.

Siem said her Bayfront Health Seven Rivers hospital continues to ask for more supplies.  

“We have asked for and are receiving additional personal protective equipment from facilities affiliated with our hospital that have the supplies to share,” she said.

Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness did not respond for this story.

Contact Chronicle reporter Fred Hiers at fred.hiers@chronicleonline.com or 352-397-5914.

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