If there was ever a week that reinforced the idea that we’re all in this together, it was this week. Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this challenge.
Wednesday night, with some very important work for hospitals by Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, a new COVID-19 package was approved. These measures will begin to deliver financial and other support as hospitals try to serve their communities during this public health crisis.
All hospitals are in an era of “new normal” and many smaller hospitals are at significant short-term risk. We’re working on this at the state and federal level, and for the near term and long term. We’re providing updates in our daily, and often twice-daily, updates.
Earlier this week I read a column by Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst. He was commenting on the federal legislative process, and the public dialogue about priorities:
“I'll tell you what I can think about. I can worry about a future in which our local hospital closes. And without some action from Washington, that is very likely to happen. We don’t have much of a local economy. The hospital is the biggest employer in our county, by far. It pays the best wages. It’s a source of pride, and employment, and oh by the way, on the cusp of the greatest health threat we’ve seen around here since 1918, it takes care of sick people as well.
Fear of infection has meant that the main source of cash flow for the hospital, outpatient services, has virtually ended. You can’t blame our mostly elderly populace for staying away when they are told to stay home, to self-quarantine, to protect themselves and others by social distancing. It is likely that they are making the correct decision for their health, and for everyone else’s as well. But hospitals depend on those visits for the majority of their cash flow, and that steady source of business has disappeared overnight. At least 7 other rural hospitals in our area are in the same dire straits. We need help, and we need it now.
It costs thousands for the anesthetic to intubate a victim of COVID-19 who needs a ventilator. Hospitals are being advised to stock personal protective equipment at ten times their normal par levels. Those are costs they didn’t expect in December, inventory that they have never had to have on hand before. What’s the right number of doses to have on hand? How many masks, gowns and respirators will they need? The correct answer, whatever it might be, is costly. I’m sure people in our town expect them not only to be there to treat people who contract the virus, but to have adequate medical supplies.”
The agriculture community, which has already had a very hard year, understands the vital role of hospitals and health care — from an economic perspective and in protecting Missourians’ health.
This wasn’t the only time leaders from other organizations joined with us this week. The Association of Counties, Missouri Bankers Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Missouri Farm Bureau, joined health care leaders in encouraging citizens to distance and stay at home. This wasn’t always to the economic advantage of their members. However, it was the right thing to do.
We’re seeing organizations harmed by the growing economic shutdown contribute much-needed supplies and retired members of the workforce rejoin to serve. Again, people are doing the right thing.
I’m reminded of a quote from Winston Churchill, who after a success early in the war reminded his nation of the long struggle ahead. He said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” We’re making important progress. And, that progress will save lives.
Let me know what you’re thinking.
Herb B. Kuhn
MHA President and CEO
In This Issue
Congress Completes Enactment Of COVID-19 Stimulus Legislation
CMS Provides CDR For OP-32, OP-35 And OP-36
MLN Connects Provider eNews Available