Ramsey: CAMC in ‘financial never-never land’ with coronavirus impact

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The president and CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center says his hospital is currently in a “financial never-never land” with the impact of the coronavirus.

David Ramsey

Dave Ramsey, a guest Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline,” said the threat of the surge involving the virus has caused a 30 percent decrease in CAMC’s daily census and a 50 percent decrease in daily medical procedures. Both of which are important revenue sources for CAMC and the four hospitals it operates, Ramsey said.

“The fact that we’re not doing elective procedures to save on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and then the fact that people are just staying home,” Ramsey said. “They’re not out in activities on a daily basis. They’re not exerting themselves. They’re not driving very much. So a lot of people don’t need our services,”

Ramsey said it takes $3,3 million a day to operate CAMC but right now the hospital is bringing in about $2 million a day. CAMC has asked workers to take some days off and to share work to cut down on hours. The hospital also has a reserve fund which would cover the costs of about 140 days. Ramsey said they hope they don’t have to keep dipping into their reserves.

“That’s why we’re taking these steps now (cutting hours) in order to preserve that reserve as long as we can,” Ramsey said.

The stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last week includes increases in Medicare reimbursements for hospitals in several areas. Ramsey said that will help but it’s only expected to be about $6 million for his hospital plus the additional money for treating coronavirus patients. CAMC had eight patients in-house as of Thursday afternoon. It has treated 42 coronavirus patients on an outpatient basis. The hospital has had 1763 negative tests with six pending.

CAMC eliminated elective procedures more than two weeks ago in connection with Centers for Disease Control recommendations. Gov. Jim Justice signed an executive order this week mandating the elimination statewide.

Justice said Thursday he’s very aware of the revenue flow problems the hospitals are facing.

“We get all of that but the issue today is the supplies and protective gear for all of those who are out there going without that,” Justice said. “I’m very hopeful we can lift that as soon as we can lift it but today we’ve got to conserve those supplies as much as possible.”

Ramsey said CAMC is ready for a possible surge of coronavirus patients. He said there’s no excuse for the United States struggling with supplies and equipment to battle the virus.

“It’s a tragedy in my opinion that we as a nation have not been able to get the ventilators, get the testing equipment, get the PPE that’s really needed to ensure health care workers’ safety and patients’ safety as well,” Ramsey said.

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