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In what was billed as the final edition of Floyd Medical Center’s Facebook Live weekly presentations on COVID-19 — for now, at least –president and chief executive officer Kurt Stuenkel walked visitors through an incredible data drop. Included were the 84 people hospitalized from Feb. 29 through May 20 for needed treatment to losing millions each month as revenue plummeted.
Stuenkel, once again interviewed by the marketing department’s Dan Bevels, told of Floyd’s first patient — known publicly as a Polk County woman who had traveled to Washington, D.C., and returned eventually needing enhanced care. Discharged after her Feb. 29 admission, she would return and be diagnosed as the region’s first positive test and one of the state’s as well.
At that time, Stuenkel said, the hospital was watching the outbreak sweep parts of China and Italy, and eventually into New York City. Floyd decided to ramp up capactiy in case such outbreaks spread to our area, which led to the expansion into the former Kindred hall ways, the decision to enclose the first floor of a parking deck which added 100 to 200 extra beds of capacity and the building of “B20” — the modular unit in another parking lot that can accommodate 20 patients in case of a surge.
Since March, Floyd has had 352 people test positive for the virus at its combined campuses: Floyd, Polk and Cherokee County, Ala., hospitals as well as urgent and primary care locations in Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama.
Thankfully, those extra beds have not been used, Stuenkel says, but they’re ready especially if estimates of a second or third wave of coronavirus hit. Some of those projections are “daunting,” he says, adding that Floyd “has planned for it and is ready” just in case.
The costs of Floyd’s quick reaction haven’t been covered by any federal or state funding to date, he says, and together cost at least $1 million.
And while Floyd was in the middle months of an exceptionally good fiscal year (July 1 through June 30), all that changed in March as the pandemic spread in Georgia.
Area hospitals immediately shut down elective surgeries, which are major revenue producers in healthcare. But then came unexpected hits — people quit going to urgent care centers and even the emergency room in fear of contacting the virus even through COVID-19 patients already were under enhanced quarantined treatment.
Floyd operates at about a $40 million revenue stream per month, he says, with less than $2 million going toward the bottom line. Traditional expenses eat up the rest.
In March, the revenue flow dropped to $30 million and then to $24 million in April. At the same time, those $38 million or so in expenses didn’t go away, Stuenkel says. Emergency room and urgent traffic dropped by 50 percent, he adds.
Stuenkel says the first stimulus packages have include funds that Floyd has received and it is possible a good share of the costs for adding the extra beds might be reimbursed but for now, that money has not shown up.
Likewise, he shot down the social media rumors that healthcare centers get extra reimbursement for checking the COVID-19 box on required forms. While Medicare indeed does pay more for such cases, there also are added expenses in dealing with coronavirus patients — among them being personal protective equipment, negative pressure rooms, enhanced cleaning and such, he says.
“There’s a lot of red ink in this,” Stuenkel says, adding that the hospital expects to continue monthly losses into August or September.
Hosptial administrators and board members have kept “rainy day” funds within reach in case of emergencies, enough to stretch 210 days if needed, he says. That $250 million reserve is beng tapped, Stuenkel says, which is why no staffers have had to take cuts or furloughs to date.