Coronavirus Pandemic Threatens Financial Health of Clarion Hospital

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – With the fear of the coronavirus pandemic on everyone’s minds, the Clarion Hospital is not only struggling with the added task of preparing for the virus but also with the reduced funds from non-essential procedures being put on hold.

One step Clarion Hospital Foundation has taken is the COVID-19 response fund.

Clarion Hospital President Steven Davis, pictured above, told that residents can indicate that they would like their donation to go to Clarion Hospital.

“If the public elects to donate funds to the Clarion Hospital, those funds will stay with the hospital in their community.”

According to Davis, Butler Health System and its subsidiary Clarion Hospital was one of the first in the region to take steps to protect the public’s safety, with precautions implemented in mid-March.

“We did that by basically closing down or severely restricting visitation,” Davis explained.

Restrictions included vendors, as well as others who may come into the hospital.

All non-urgent or elective procedures or surgeries were stopped. Routine testing and office visits were also put on hold.
“What the public may not understand, is that for most organizations today, those activities constitute as much as 60 to 70% of all revenue for a healthcare organization,” Davis explained.

“We have effectively, intentionally cut off our revenue to protect the public. There are very severe financial consequences, sometimes, to doing the right thing.”

In addition to the loss of revenue from the services not being performed, Davis said the hospital has had the cost of making preparations to care for COVID-19 patients.

“There’s planning, supplies, and training for staff,” he said. “You’ve effectively cut off your revenue, so you can imagine how financially devastating that can be for the entire industry.”

Donations made to the hospital’s COVID-19 response fund will be used to buy supplies but also to protect against revenue loss.

Tax-deductible donation to the fund can be made here.

The hospital is also continuing to accept donations of personal protective equipment such as homemade cloth masks used for employees and patients who may come into the hospital and do not have their own masks.

Currently, there are varying estimates on when the state may see a decline in cases.

As of Sunday, the state reported 32,284 residents had tested positive for Coronavirus. A total of 1,112 people died.

The hospital reported its first death from COVID-19 in Clarion County on Saturday, April 18. Eighteen cases of the coronavirus have also been reported in Clarion County.

Although Western Pennsylvania could see the apex of reported cases in the next two to three weeks, Davis said the question of when it will be safe to ease restrictions and return to elective surgeries remains unclear.

Davis said Butler Health System is watching the data.

“Our President, Ken DeFurio, has set up a steering committee to analyze the data and determine what’s good for Butler Health System in terms of when we begin to relax those restrictions as a system.”

“We’re going to be very deliberate and thoughtful about that decision. Our physician leaders are very much involved in assessing everything to make sure we do it right.”

The concern is that opening things too early could lead to a surge in cases.

While Clarion Hospital officially became a part of the Butler Health System in December, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the integration process.

Davis said they have moved forward on a much shorter timeline in terms of implementing telemedicine and getting specialist providers available as consultants within the hospital.

“Coming together as a team in setting up an incident command and responding to the once-in-a-lifetime crisis has bonded our organizations and helped us to respond in a cohesive fashion,” Davis noted.

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