Hospitals in the Northwest are waiting to see how a new round of federal aid will trickle down to them. This week, Congress approved $75 billion for hospitals as part of its second round of funding for the Payroll Protection Program.
Alan Fisher, the CEO at Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, is still waiting to hear about his facility’s share. But he says, with this and other infusions of government aid trickling in, he’s more upbeat about his facility’s future than he was a couple of weeks ago.
“I’m optimistically excited that I think we’re going to make it. I really do. What I’m truly hoping for, though, is that we can have a break and be able to some type of elective surgery," Fisher said.
That’s something Washington Governor Jay Inslee referred to a possibility during his statewide address on Tuesday, if the number of confirmed cases continues to stabilize.
Jacqueline Barton True says small town hospitals were struggling before the coronavirus epidemic, but they’re especially vulnerable now. She’s the vice president of rural health programs for the Washington State Hospital Association.
“Supplies are more expensive and they need more personal protective gear; we’ve got to keep those health care workers safe. They’re needing to set up alternative testing sites and there’s a lot of cost associated with that. But many of them aren’t seeing the volume of Covid patients that downtown Seattle is and they’re really sitting empty. That double whammy of increased costs and decreased revenue is really hitting them hard," Barton True said.
Barton True says some hospitals, like Mid-Valley, will manage their way through this situation, but others will continue to struggle.