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CARES Act softens financial hit for health care providers

Sansum Medical Clinic

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Like many businesses, health care providers have taken a big hit to their bottom line during the Coronavirus pandemic. They've continued to see all medically necessary patients and are now able to perform some elective procedures, but overall patient volume and revenue dropped significantly in the months of March and April.

The federal government is offering help through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

One hundred and seventy five billion dollars is being distributed. Millions of it has recently gone to local health care providers.

Sansum Medical Clinic received $5,258,863 from the Federal Cares Act to help offset financial losses from the coronavirus

"It helps," Sansum Medical Director and CEO, Kurt Ransohoff said. "I mean certainly that's a lot of money. You know if we can put it in perspective, our operating budget is $350 million dollars a year, so it's less than two percent of our total yearly revenue."

Ransohoff says in the month of March the largest medical clinic in Santa Barbara County was losing about $2 million a week. They made the painful decision then to furlough workers.

"Currently the loss is much less," Ransohoff said. "Unfortunately some of that is because of the furlough."

Ransohoff says patient volume is increasing, and about 30-40 percent of the furloughed workers are back on the job. He sees a long road ahead, but feels the worst is behind them, and is encouraged by the community response to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Six weeks ago about 8-10 percent of the people we tested would be positive," Ransohoff said. "More recently, it's about one or two percent. So that's a really good development to see that fall. I think it's a credit to this community."

Ransohoff says Sansum is also very grateful for community donations to the non-profit clinic of $1.4 million dollars.

Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria also received funding from the CARES Act. The hospital released this statement to us:

Marian Regional Medical Center, along with other Dignity Health hospitals, did receive CARES funding.  The CARES funding was helpful, but it did not offset the losses incurred over the past three months. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the priority and obligations of Marian, as a not-for-profit hospital, was, as it always is, to provide for the care and safety of our patients and communities.

Cottage Hospitals released this statement about the CARES Act funding they received:

The negative financial impact of the pandemic on Cottage Health in March and April was $33.7 million. CARES provided 17.2 million, or approximately half, to help with recovery efforts.

Funding provided by the CARES Act to providers such as the Cottage hospitals is intended to support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital received $14,341,742 from the first and second allocations of the CARES Act. The same formula, based on approximately 2% of 2018 net patient revenue, was used for eligible hospitals across the country providing essential medical care.
Also, from the first two allocations, Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital received $1,878,435, and Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital received $418,357.  Pacific Diagnostics Laboratories received $567,729.

A third allocation was distributed to hospitals that had treated more than 100 patients with COVID-19.  None of the Cottage facilities received grants from this allocation.

Additionally, Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, which is designated as a critical access hospital, received $3,459,806 from the fourth allocation of the CARES Act, which focused on support for rural providers across the country.

Cottage hospitals invested early in supplies, protective equipment, telemedicine technology, training and planning to be ready for ongoing care, not only for COVID-19 but for other illnesses and conditions.  We have remained open at all times for ongoing emergency and urgent care, and are now open and scheduling care for essential, non-emergency needs. Our hospitals are safe and well-prepared to provide ongoing patient care. Community members are encouraged to protect their health by seeking medical care when they need it and not postpone necessary medical treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up a public data base to track the money from the HHS Provider Relief Fund as part of the CARES Act.

According to the Covid Stimulus Watch website, Sierra Vista Hospital in San Luis Obispo received $2,049,014

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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