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Concord Hospital revenue is down $20 million a month as it prepares for COVID-19 surge

  • Concord Hospital Nursing Director Jennifer Dongarra (left) and Hospital Infrastructure Branch Director Alison Brisson look over a map of the facility at the Incident Command Center on Thursday, March 19, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Concord Hospital security officer Robert Charter stands in the outer lobby of the facility next to the visitor update policy on Thursday, March 19, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 4/1/2020 1:20:06 PM

As Concord Hospital prepares for what is likely to be a surge in COVID-19 cases, it is facing a problem that is familiar to companies all over the country: Loss of income.

“Our regular business is down 50%,” said Pamela Puleo, chief advancement officer for Concord Hospital. “We’re like any other business in the community trying to navigate what this means for us.”

Concord Hospital, like other New Hampshire health care facilities, has cleared the decks in preparation for the expected rush of COVID-19 cases. It has halted all non-emergency surgeries, tests and treatments, and has set up new systems such as screening tents in the parking lot for drive-up patients and the sealing of 38 patient rooms so they can have “negative pressure” that will keep airborne infection from escaping when COVID-19 patients arrive.

However, the COVID surge has not yet happened, so business is way down.

As an example, Puleo said, on Tuesday the hospital had 88 in-hospital patients compared to a typical count of 200. 

“Our average daily physician office visits are now 495 compared to (typical) 1,100, a 55% decrease,” even though they have increased telephone consultations and patient visits, she said. “Our estimated net revenues are down approximately 55%, which equates to over $20 million per month, with little opportunity to mitigate our expense base.”

News reports have indicated that most other hospitals in the state are facing the same problem. 

Concord Hospital is the second-largest employer in Concord, behind only state government, with a head count of more than 2,800, according to the city’s annual financial report. So the obvious way to cut costs is to cut paid staff.  That hasn’t happened, said Puleo.

“We have no plans at this time to do any layoffs. Everyone at Concord Hospital still has jobs and they still have their benefits,” Puleo said.

However, she added, “we’re not staffing to the same level.” One example: “We just closed the gift shop.”

Currently, the difference is being bridged by having people use vacation time. If they have run out, they can “go in arrears for vacation time for two weeks.” People are also being shifted to other jobs including some that didn’t exist until now.

“Right now we have cleaners at every single door – that was a new need as a result of the virus,” she said.

If the financial crunch continues, she said, other options may be needed. “Were looking at asking people to donate extra vacation time to a pool so it can be used by other employees.”

The big question from a financial point of view is what will happen once the COVID-19 surge passes and life returns to more predictable patterns. 

“We think there will be pent-up demand when this is done. Things will get back to more than normal. People will need to have their surgeries, and the treatments they put off. … We’ll probably be running seven days a week,” Puleo said.

 

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


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