Beds empty, revenues slowed at hospitals in West Virginia; CAMC announces hours reduction measures

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Some hospitals in West Virginia are starting to have cash flow problems with the doing away of elective surgeries and other procedures due to the coronavirus.

West Virginia Hospital Association President Joe Letnaunchyn said many services normally offered are being put off in the current environment.

Joe Letnaunchyn

“The Surgeon General said cancel elective surgeries and you cancel electives, you cancel other related ancillary services and the revenue stream dries up,” Letnaunchyn said during an appearance Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “So we’re trying to find alternate ways to provide revenue to the hospitals in the interim until the federal bill gets going.”

Hospitals are expected to receive some funding under the federal stimulus package signed into law last week.

Charleston Area Medical Center is cutting back hours of employees is connection with fewer patients.

“Due to significant drops in the number of patients and procedures, CAMC has asked managers to adjust staffing to meet the reduced demands it is experiencing,” CAMC spokesman Dale Witte told MetroNews Monday afternoon.

Managers are temporarily reducing hours of some employees.

CAMC President and CEO David Ramsey said during an appearance last week on “Talkline” his hospitals had 150 empty beds.

Letnaunchyn said his organization’s coronavirus task force is seeking ways to help the hospitals in the state including an advance from Medicaid on reimbursements.

“We’re working with Medicaid right now to try and get some advance on Medicaid payments to some of the hospitals. We’re working as quick as we can to synthesize how to get money flowing on the federal bill passed by Medicare,” Letnaunchyn said.

West Virginia hospitals have been struggling in recent history because of a high number of patients that are covered by government insurance plans and small percentage of patients covered by commercial insurers. The reimbursement rate is lower with Medicaid and PEIA patients.

But now it appears to be just the lack of overall patient numbers that’s causing the issue.

Letnaunchyn said it’s difficult to predict how long it will last. He said the hospitals may face a surge of coronavirus cases. He hopes not but they will ready if it happens.

“All the messages to the public about the distancing, the hygiene, washing, maybe that’s going to pay off for us and we won’t have the surge but we have to plan like we’re going to or we won’t be prepared,” Letnaunchyn said.


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