‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability | TheUnion.com
YOUR AD HERE »

‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

By the numbers

As of May 6

Number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada County: 41

Number in western county: 12

Number in eastern county: 29

Number of active cases: zero

Number of recoveries: 40

Number of deaths: 1

Learn more at http://www.theunion.com/coronavirus

It was several months ago when local residents raised concern over Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s decision to terminate some of its positions.

While those sentiments have appeared to have faded — with the temporary halting of elective surgeries, and considering the typical strains of operating a rural hospital under normal conditions — local hospital administrators say they are closely watching their bottom line. They’re also applying for federal stimulus funding to remain stable, thereby remaining one of the county’s largest employers, keeping about 650 people full time, with about 800 total workers.

“We anticipate that we will receive enough funding to partially offset the impact of COVID-19,” Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital President and CEO Dr. Brian Evans wrote in an email. Evans said the hospital has not made additional hires recently, but has increased staffing to better manage screenings and to enhance its emergency preparedness response.

During the pandemic, smaller hospitals, with less money in their reserves, are at a disadvantage compared with larger health systems as finances tighten, according to a report by Kaiser Health News. Rural hospitals, already struggling to stay afloat before the virus outbreak, typically have to deal with higher levels of older, poorer, sick people who are less likely to have insurance. These issues have not gone away since the pandemic hit. On April 6, the National Rural Health Association wrote an open letter to Congress imploring it to provide financial relief for rural hospitals so they can keep their doors open during the crisis. More recently, much of the lost revenue stems from rural hospitals’ inability to provide non-emergency care, the letter states.

Support Local Journalism


Evans sympathized with this perspective.

“Delaying elective surgeries is creating a significant decrease in revenue for Sierra Nevada (Memorial Hospital), and most other hospitals around the country,” he wrote, adding that the local hospital intends to “resume elective surgeries shortly” under the guidance from state and national public health institutions.

Since 2010, rural hospital closures — many of them clustered in the southeastern U.S. — have been steeply rising, according to a report from the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Nineteen rural hospitals closed in 2019 alone, and a 2020 Guidehouse study found that 25%, or 340 hospitals across 40 states, are at high risk of closing unless their financial situations improve.

“Rural hospitals have a number of challenges,” wrote Evans. “Recruiting is difficult because most physicians and other health care providers often look for positions in more urban areas. We also offer similar services to take care of our community, but with lower volumes of patients, this can be financially challenging because we don’t have high patient volumes to offset expenses. This is particularly true for services like OB/GYN, specialty surgery and cancer care.”

Rural hospitals also struggle with fewer opportunities for commercial insurance payment, relying more heavily on lower payouts from government plans like MediCal and Medicare, Evans said.

‘A MIRROR OF OUR COMMUNITY’

Three things are needed to ensure a thriving community, according to Gil Mathew, president of the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation’s board. That includes a good regional airport, a higher education institution and a “state of the art” medical community — which, he said, Nevada County maintains.

“We have a world-class hospital,” said Mathew. “We have equipment there that they don’t have in Sacramento.”

But even with as much success as the hospital has had, Mathew said keeping the facility will always be a challenge to maintain with stringent rules and regulations and difficulties balancing quantity of labor and quantity of patients.

Both Mathew and Marty Lombardi, a hospital foundation board member, spoke highly of the hospital’s impact on the western county economy and local civic life.

“I hear the incredible empathy, the incredible compassion with how these folks go about their business,” said Lombardi. “I’m just so grateful that they’re here, that they’re in our community. I think it’s a mirror of our community.”

One of the few changes at the hospital that may occur post-pandemic, suggested Lombardi, is a heightened awareness of another viral outbreak, and even more readiness to organize quickly toward preparedness in case of an emergency.

As the hospital is currently in an emergency preparedness response mode, awaiting a possible spike in COVID-19 patients, Evans said that elective, non-emergency surgeries and practices will only occur once testing increases, enough personal protective equipment is supplied and there is a sustained reduction of COVID-19 cases in the area.

“We will continue to plan and prepare for all of these things, and ask for the support and partnership of our community,” he wrote. “That is why we are here.”

MORE IN THIS SERIES

‘We are the recovery; we are essential’: Nevada County Arts Council survey reveals artists, art organizations are struggling

Who’s zooming whom? Creativity among Nevada County artists in the pandemic era

Nevada County Arts Council receives $112K Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education grant for new project

Nevada County nonprofit funding in jeopardy

Nonprofits struggle to serve clients during pandemic shutdown

Nevada County animal rescue groups see surge in fosters, adoptions

Nevada County’s thrift stores move ahead with reopening

Possible postponement, cancellation of Nevada County Fair would negatively impact several Nevada County nonprofits

Local nonprofits feeling the effect of canceled, postponed fundraising events due to COVID-19

Feeding Nevada County: Effort to help those hungry bolstered by partnerships between nonprofits (VIDEO)

Nevada County youth organizations adjust to public health requirements

Volunteer work faces changes at Nevada County nonprofits amid restrictions

‘Do you have reserves?’ Still much uncertainty over how nonprofits will fare in coming months, years

Government business continues in isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County, cities collaborate to reopen safely

Wildfire prep in Nevada County continues virtually during pandemic

‘This is why we signed up’: Librarian, homeless shelter manager continue working during pandemic

Financial aid offers much-needed relief in western Nevada County for those who can get it

Grass Valley trims staff in response to COVID-19 shutdown

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

Nevada County property tax on par despite pandemic

Nevada County health workers say they currently have sufficient supply of personal protective equipment

Hospice of the Foothills continues providing end-of-life care during COVID-19 crisis

Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic

Residents of Nevada County senior living communities staying connected

‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability

Nurses in Nevada County and the region talk about why they love their jobs

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed COVID-19 case data

Officials: Testing is key in calls to reopen in Nevada County, across California

Nevada County doctors change approach to providing care due to COVID-19

The trifecta: Public health experts recommend testing, contact tracing and supported isolation to phase into a reopened world

Investigating the impact: Lack of revenue, uncertain return date causes concern for arts and entertainment venues

Impacts of Idaho-Maryland mine to be revealed soon

Nevada County artists discuss how COVID-19 shutdown has affected them

‘The arts are essential’: Center for the Arts launches emergency relief fund

Real estate sales strong in Nevada County despite challenges

No slowdown seen in Nevada County construction industry despite COVID-19 lockdown

Nevada County government, home improvement and real estate representatives talk business during COVID-19

‘I’d like to place an order’: In light of COVID-19, the demand for home delivery services in Nevada County is at an all-time high

Grass Valley, Nevada City first to feel COVID-19 economic hit

See you soon? Small business owners struggle, but are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow in Nevada County

Nevada County businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Nevada County health care providers pivot on financial tight rope

‘A sudden and dramatic downturn’: Nevada County economy will be hurt for longtime following coronavirus slowdown, expert says

‘A recession, let alone a depression’: Western Nevada County businesses apply for federal loans, but most have yet to receive money

Nevada County businesses, governments, nonprofits navigate uncertain times, worry what’s ahead

RELATED RESOURCES

http://www.TheUnion.com/coronavirus

http://www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Connect with needs and opportunities from

Get immediate access to organizations and people in our area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User