MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A letter from the Minnesota Hospital Association to the state’s Congressional delegation paints a dire financial picture.

The state’s hospitals and clinics are hemorrhaging money due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those losses are estimated at $2.9 billion over the next 90 days.

“All of these losses are adding up and have been adding up. So I have to say, this number as large as it seems is actually conservative,” MHA president Dr. Rahul Koranne said.

Koranne’s letter blames the losses on cancelled elective surgeries, patient visits and COVID-19 preparations. More hospital ventilators, personal protection supplies and reconfiguring ICU beds is costing hospitals more than $13 million a day.

“We are cancelling elective surgeries and procedures and telling patients not to come into the clinics, if they don’t need to, in order to prevent the surge from happening,” Koranne said.

The financial hit is forcing healthcare organizations to make painful staffing cuts. Essentia Health, based in Duluth, will put 500 employees on unpaid leave.

At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, salaried workers will take pay cuts. In addition, hourly paid staff will be required to take temporary furloughs starting in May.

But beginning Monday, Allina Hospitals and Clinic’s non-patient care staff will begin taking a week of furlough over the next 30 days, during which time the cost-cutting will be under review.

“Decisions involving people’s livelihoods are always hard and we want to be thoughtful. So right now we are focusing on the rollout of this phase,” Allina’s chief human resources officer Christine Moore said.

Meantime, other medical caregivers will be retrained and redeployed to help with the expected surge in COVID-19 patients.

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