Back Print

Rural hospitals such as Winneshiek Medical Center are among the hardest hit financially by COVID-19

Posted: Thu, May 7, 2020 2:37 PM

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, hospitals across the country were asked to make sure they had enough beds to handle COVID-19 patients.  That meant they stopped doing elective surgeries and started making preparations for an emergency.

The hospitals have responded by increasing their preparedness for COVID-19 patients, but it's come at a cost—a financial cost.

For instance, Winneshiek Medical Center's financial statement of revenues and expenses for March shows the results of a 23 percent drop in surgeries and a decline in clinic visits.  Net revenues for the month of $4,139,996 were down 22 percent, pushing the medical center's year-to-date financial statement from being in the black to being $338,696 in the red for the first nine months of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  "We see the first negative financial impacts (of the coronavirus)," says WMC Chief Financial Officer Lynn Luloff.

It's a situation that's unlikely to improve on the April financial statement, although the hospital began performing elective surgeries again on Monday, April 27th.

The Iowa Hospital Association says over a six-week period in March and April, Iowa's rural hospitals saw an average of a 50 percent drop in their revenues.

In the case of Winneshiek Medical Center, it's federal dollars which are helping the situation.  WMC has received two payments from Health and Human Services through the CARES Act—the first one of $1.2 million and a second one of $4.37 million. Those funds will push WMC back into the black, but hospital officials will still be nervously watching the bottom line to see what the long-term financial impacts of the coronavirus will be.