Rural Hospitals Feel the Impact of COVID-19

Local News

RIFLE, Colo.- Rural hospitals are suffering huge financial loses because of COVID-19.

During stay-at-home orders, all hospitals had to suspend elective surgeries, procedures that are not life-threatening if they’re delayed.

Grand River Hospital in Rifle relies on those elective surgeries as one major source of revenue.

Elective surgeries have resumed, but the impact of COVID-19 persists.

According to the hospital’s Chief Financial Officer, Grand River did receive some funding from the initial $100 billion federal CARES Act dollars set aside for hospitals for the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act is the massive federal economic stimulus package aimed at helping Americans through COVID-19.

“To date we’ve received just under $1.5 million, which comes close to covering what we lost just in the last few weeks of March,” said Grand River CFO Cris Bolin. “April was much more drastic.”

Bolin also says she hopes to see more funding come from the $10 billion dollars set aside for rural hospitals in the second round of COVID-19 aid.

She added employees continued to receive pay throughout March and April, and continue to right now. But any additional government assistance will help.

“We’ve been able to keep staff working where appropriate,” Bolin said. “We haven’t reduced our expenses where we’ve seen huge reductions in volumes.”

Chief Medical Officer Kevin Coleman at Grand River says a challenge he and his medical team faced during stay-at-home-orders and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic were people foregoing emergency care due to fear of getting the virus.

“I had a patient who had a fever who didn’t want to come in to see a physician,” Dr. Coleman said. “Finally he did come in and he had a septic knee.”

Coleman also says he had a patient who experienced stroke-like symptoms recently and didn’t seek help due to virus fears and now has lasting neurological damage.

As elective surgeries begin after nearly two months, Grand River’s CEO says surgeons are ready to have steady work once again.

“We had a lot of surgeons vying with each other to have operating room time to get back to helping people,” said CEO Jim Coombs. “It really brought a feeling of normalcy.”

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