Hardin Memorial Health is seeing its budget impacted by COVID-19.
March, April and May operational budgets showed a combined operational loss of $13.7 million as these were the three months significantly impacted by state-issued restrictions designed to “flatten the curve” and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to a statement released by the hospital, the $8.7 million received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act will go toward offsetting these losses.
During Tuesday’s Hardin Memorial Health Board of Trustees meeting, HMH’s interim Chief Financial Officer Pam Gallagher said operating income for the first 11 months of the 2020 fiscal year was $14.7 million less than budgeted. She said March saw an operating income loss of $4.9 million and April trended even higher with a nearly $7 million loss.
Gallagher attributed it to extraordinary expenses as the hospital prepared for a potential patient surge and worked to secure personal protective equipment, establish the Respiratory Virus Evaluation Center on Woodland Drive, transform and add critical care rooms and much more.
The elimination of revenue from elective procedures also greatly contributed to the loss. In May, as Hardin Memorial began returning elective procedures, the deficient was far less at only a $1.9 million loss.
“While much has been discussed about the physical, emotional and personal toll of COVID-19, we are realizing the full extent the pandemic and health care restrictions had on HMH’s financial health,” Gallagher said in the release. “The virus changed how, when and where we cared for patients, but our team performed well, cut expenses and even created and executed some innovative new processes that benefited patients.”
Dennis Johnson, HMH president and CEO, praised his team during the meeting for its commitment to patients and for fiscal responsibility despite what he considered the most trying situation in Hardin Memorial’s 66-year history.
“Our team began preparing for the novel coronavirus in January long before others and they continued to deliver results for our system and for our patients from those days until now,” Johnson said. “COVID-19 is not over by any stretch of the imagination and the HMH team remains at the ready. I couldn’t be more proud or more thankful to have this team and this system ready to care for everyone in Central Kentucky.”
During the pandemic, the release said nearly all HMH physicians and advanced practice clinicians begun conducting video visits with patients.
HMH also upgraded facilities and added other patient services for those who are COVID-19 positive. One such upgrade was the newly equipped negative pressure rooms in the HMH Intensive Care and Coronary intensive Care Units. The negative pressure rooms are outfitted with HEPA filters that extract and filter the air before releasing it outside the hospital. This helps prevent airborne diseases such as COVID-19 from escaping the room.
In addition, Johnson said HMH worked closely with its staff to implement voluntary furloughs, volunteer income reductions and hour flexing which is considered a common practice in health care when patient census is low.
For some HMH employees, this created an added hardship as they cared for patients.
The HMH Foundation established the COVID-19 Emergency Fund to help support the staff the pandemic.
Individuals, community groups and local businesses who want to support HMH caregivers and patients can make monetary donations online at ourhmh.org. Donors may mail checks to HMH Foundation, 913 N. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible.
HMH Vice President and Chief Marketing and Development Officer Tracee Troutt said through this fund, the foundation has been able to assist several employees that have dealt with extraordinary expenses because of COVID-19.
Also during the meeting, Sharon Wright, Hardin Memorial Health vice president and chief nursing officer, gave a small COVID-19 by the numbers update. She said there have been five deaths at Hardin Memorial related to COVID-19. They currently have one positive patient in-house. They have 20 awaiting their tests or still exhibiting symptoms even though the test has come back negative.