Elective surgeries resume as hospitals face difficult recovery

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — Even doctors are not immune from the economic side effects of the coronavirus crisis.

While many hospitals’ emergency and ICU areas have been all hands on deck, other healthcare professionals inside and outside the hospital setting are facing layoffs and financial ruin.

“Our medical practitioners are under real stress,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN.

Before Roe dedicated most of his time to Washington politics, he delivered thousands of babies as a Tennessee OBGYN. The now retired physician said the coronavirus crisis is devastating his practice. 

“The revenues are 50 percent of what they were last year,” Roe said. “For the first time in history in over 50 years that my practice has been there, we’ve had to lay people off, furlough people.”

To fight the pandemic, the Trump administration advised facilities to postpone most elective procedures and tests, cutting off the the bulk of revenue for medical centers.

“We need to get them back to work,” Roe said.

The Tennessee Hospital Association reports its facilities are losing $1 billion every month because of these delays.

“These facilities have maintained expensive operations in preparation for an to serve COVID-19 patients while experiencing a dramatic drop in volume and services that typically comprise their core business,” THA President and CEO Dr. Wendy Long said in a statement. “This creates a paradox of hospitals experiencing severe financial strain when their services are most needed.”

Long stressed many Tennessee hospitals were already struggling. Rep. Michael Guest, R-MS, said it’s the same situation in his state.

“Many of the hospitals back in the third congressional district were already under financial distress prior to COVID-19,” Guest said. “Since that time, they’ve had to cut back on things like elective surgery that provided crucial revenue to the hospital.”

Both Mississippi and Tennessee started to reopen their economies Monday. Many healthcare providers there plan to restart elective procedures next month.

“We could open our outpatient facilities up, and I think that we’re going to do that,” Roe said.

While Congress has passed multiple rounds of funding for hospitals, Roe said he and his colleagues could make some adjustments to include other medical professionals, too.

Other states, including Colorado, Indiana and Iowa, restarted certain elective procedures Monday.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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