Rural hospitals losing revenue due to COVID-19

Franciscan Health Alliance is responsible for two rural hospitals one in Rensselaer and one in Crawfordsville. Both are small, which means their revenue base is much smaller. That loss in revenue can affect virtually all aspects of the hospital's finances.

Posted: Apr 1, 2020 6:17 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2020 6:32 PM

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind.(WLFI)- With elective surgeries being canceled several rural hospitals are taking a hit to their bottom line.

"This is affecting every hospital's bottom line," said the CEO of Franciscan Health Lafayette Terry Wilson.

Franciscan Health Alliance is responsible for two rural hospitals one in Rensselaer and one in Crawfordsville. Both are small, which means their revenue base is much smaller.

"When you take out all of the elective procedures that we do in those hospitals and any hospital that size it has a very large impact on their revenue base.," said Wilson.

That loss in revenue can affect virtually all aspects of the hospital's finances.

"It can affect staffing going forward it can affect programs that don't pay for themselves,” said Wilson. “All hospitals have those, but in a small rural hospital that has a bigger more significant impact in the short run."

However, the two rural hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network have an advantage.

"If they lose a considerable amount money in this short run we can sustain them through the strength of Franciscan Alliance," added Wilson

Rural areas already have a hard time recruiting talent, a problem health professionals think will get worse after the pandemic subsides.

"There will undoubtedly be increased use of virtual care, so online kinds of telemedicine options especially in small communities where it is hard today to recruit physicians and will be as difficult if not more so in the future," said Wilson.

As of right now, there are no plans to cancel any kind of special programming that may be offered at rural hospitals in the Franciscan Health network, but the future is unclear.

Wilson says rural hospitals that are independent or not connected to a larger health system could potentially close if they lose too much revenue. He says they could end up joining larger health systems as well if they take too much of a loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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