By Dan McCullough, Financial Consultant
It goes without saying at this point that COVID-19 has had devastating effects, not just from the health complications and loss that it has created but also from an economic standpoint. The healthcare industry is not immune from this economic fallout and has been impacted with additional expenses along with a loss of revenue.
Healthcare facilities have been purchasing as much personal protective equipment as they can. Storage areas and closets have been filling up with this PPE, which is necessary to help minimize exposure and spread of the disease. This is not only important to the patients entrusted in their care, but also to protect those on the front lines providing that care. Along with the purchase of this equipment there is the additional expense of COVID testing.
Screeners are needed to take temperatures and ensure that everyone entering the facility is following the proper protocols. Often this means hiring additional staff to do the screening. Beyond the hiring of additional staff, existing staff are working more hours. These additional duties of screening and testing are added expenses that take a toll on overall financial operations. Facilities are doing their best to provide some sense of normalcy and connection to the outside world for their residents.
This means extra purchases like cell phones and tablets. Visitation areas have been constructed so that residents can see their loved ones, even if this has to be behind plexiglass barriers. Activity programs have had to adapt to social distancing. These are expenses that no one saw coming or could have budgeted for.
The other side of the financial impact is the lost revenue. The number of patients seeking care in facilities has dropped significantly. There has been a decline in the number of people having elective procedures that would have required rehabilitation and other healthcare services. This decline has led to fewer patients in healthcare facilities.
Skilled nursing facilities play an important role in combatting this pandemic. They are tasked with facing it head on and that means leaning into the headwinds noted above. The population they serve falls into the high-risk category, so it is imperative that they have the resources necessary to be in the best possible condition to meet the unique challenges brought on by COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has distributed billions in funds to skilled nursing facilities. Among the CARES ACT, Paycheck Protection Program, Health Care Enhancement Act and funding at the state level, these resources will go a long way in helping healthcare facilities to be in the best position to deal with this crisis.
We are appreciative of this financial support and for those who have advocated on our behalf.
CARES Act, PPP and Act 24 funds are being used to purchase these critically necessary COVID-related tools and technology at Affinity-associated facilities:
- Screening systems
- Hazard pay for staff
- Advanced cleaning systems
- Telehealth systems
- Outdoor visitation structures