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Health Team

Rural hospitals taking financial hit during pandemic

Posted April 23, 2020 5:39 p.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2020 11:39 p.m. EDT

— Many hospitals across North Carolina put a pause on procedures to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak. They now say they're having revenue shortfalls.

They also say patients are avoiding hospitals out of fear of catching the coronavirus.

Top UNC Health officials in Johnston, Wayne and Chatham Counties talked about the problems on a teleconference Thursday.

"We have reduced our emergency room visits by 50%, and patient volume by 35%" to maintain a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, said Wayne UNC Health president Janie Jaberg, adding that she's hoping to bring back regular procedures as PPE supplies allow.

Johnston UNC Health has also postponed 300 procedures since early March to conserve PPE.

“We also wanted to be sure we had enough disposable supplies for when emergency cases come in," said Tommy Williams, interim CEO for Johnston Health Smithfield, "but it is a significant financial hit.”

Chatham Hospital in Siler City is also feeling the revenue impact. But for them, space is a concern. The facility has seen an increase in patients and cases lately as coronavirus cases in the area rise.

“We’ve taken a number of patients from the medical center to be able to decompress them to be able to take more COVID-19 patients,: said Chatham Hospital President Jeff Strickler. "Our inpatient [census] is extremely high, so that’s been another one of the factors we’ve had to deal with.”

Doctors want to remind patients they can still go to the Emergency Room in case of an emergency.

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