America’s hospitals and health systems have been intensely focused on preparing to care for patients suffering from the novel coronavirus. From the very outset of the outbreak, hospitals have significantly transformed their operations — from the use of virtual care to devising solutions to deal with the shortages of drugs and equipment, such as ventilators — to respond aggressively to the pandemic.
Regrettably, a recent piece regurgitates misinformation about hospital mergers. The fact is that mergers are responsible for expanding the capacity of smaller and rural hospitals in particular to prepare for and provide care in these unprecedented circumstances by creating more robust systems of care. Without the lifeline of financial, technical, material and professional support provided by these systems of care, the situation would be even more dire for many Americans.
The reduction in inpatient beds decried in the piece has much more to do with public policy determinations to, for example, discourage care in the inpatient setting in favor of outpatient facilities, promote delivering services remotely and treat patients in their homes whenever possible. This pandemic very well may have revealed that some of those policy decisions are indeed shortsighted if pursued to the detriment of adequate inpatient facilities in the case of a national emergency.
Eventual recovery of the entire hospital field will be aided by these larger systems of care. The Congressional Budget Office projects that between 40% and 50% of hospitals could have negative margins by 2025. The larger systems of care’s ability to access financial and bond markets and other resources and deploy and share strategies to promote resilience will be essential for a full recovery.
Read the Washington Post article here.