As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world, one rural hospital is not seeing enough business stay financially afloat, and is asking local governments for a $3 million bailout to stay open.
With elective surgeries cancelled to make room for coronavirus patients, rumors of doctors and nurses being furloughed mounting across much of the country, and a mass uncertainty as to when the pandemic may end, Rock Regional Hospital in Kansas is in a financially difficult position and is asking the small town of Derby and the county of Sedgwick, which contains Kansas’s largest city, Wichita, for a total of $3 million to keep it afloat.
The Wichita Eagle reported that the Sedgwick County Commission denied the hospital’s request for $2 million, despite the hospital’s new management – which started managing the hospital on April 1, during the pandemic – saying that without the presence of COVID-19, the hospital would be making money, and that the hospital could be used for patients not suffering from coronavirus who would otherwise seek treatment in Wichita.
Approximately 35 employees were laid off shortly before CABE took over and Hicks said his company is looking at bringing back some of those jobs to restore ICU capability.
Ideally, Rock Regional would handle patients who don’t have COVID-19 to free space at larger and more capable hospitals in Wichita to deal with the virus crisis, Hicks said.
However, the smaller hospital could be used to take up some of the overflow if coronavirus cases spike and overwhelm Wichita hospitals, Hicks said.
In denying the decision, Wichita Commissioner David Dennis noted that hundreds of employers will likely lose their businesses due to coronavirus, and the city will not be able to offer financial assistance to each of them.
National File previously reported on a nearby small town hospital that unexpectedly closed only days into the coronavirus pandemic:
Sumner Community Hospital in Wellington, Kansas shut its doors on Thursday night, firing its employees, and posting a notice on the entrance advising those seeking treatment to call emergency services.
The Topeka-Capital Journal reports that the hospital closed after years of financial struggles and lack of support from physicians in the rural community:
Management for the hospital abruptly closed the doors Thursday, citing years of financial struggle exacerbated by a lack of support from local physicians.
“People have unrealistic expectations,” Taton said. “People have to wait for an hour because their back hurts or they have a scratch, then complain on social media even though we were doing CPR on someone’s grandma in the next room or intubating someone with a drug overdose.”
As the coronavirus pandemic remains largely isolated in New York and New Jersey, it is unknown how many hospitals throughout the rest of the country may be facing financial hardship as doctors and nurses brace for a possible surge of patients with coronavirus that may never come.