NBC reported on September 27th that a second outbreak in the United States this fall and winter could have a devastating effect on the country. Doctors worry that in addition to the surge in patient numbers, more than 100 hospitals that treat the underlying patients may be forced to close or cut critical services.
Newark University Hospital is one of more than 100 major medical centers in the United States. These centers are treating the underlying patients in the United States, communities of color. They were badly hit by the new coronavirus. A growing body of data shows that black and Hispanic patients are more likely to be hospitalized for new coronavirus infections and, in many cases, more likely to die as a result.
“We are increasingly learning that these communities have been hit harder by the outbreak.” Beth Feldpus, senior vice president of policy and advocacy at American Essential Hospitals, said. The organization represents more than 300 hospitals that treat unsealed patients. “Our hospitals are definitely serving the worst-hit communities.”
When the second wave of outbreaks this fall and winter comes, “we are absolutely in danger of being shut down,” said Shereef Elnahal, president and chief executive of Newark University Hospital. ”
Aaron Wesolowski, vice president of policy research, analysis, and strategy at the American Hospital Association, said the outbreak has hit all U.S. hospitals hard. Costs have risen sharply, while revenues have plummeted. Hospitals are forced to bear the high cost of buying additional personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks, and to provide wards to patients with neo-coronavirus and more unsealed patients. In this case, the hospital had to stop carrying out some income-generating means, such as selective surgery.
Hospitals across the United States will lose about $300 billion by the end of 2020, according to the American Hospital Association. The economic impact of the second wave of outbreaks will be particularly devastating for major medical centers such as the University Hospital of Newark. “There are cracks in the health system, and that will turn into earthquakes,” said Chris Pennell, director of strategic integration and health equity at the hospital.
Safety net hospitals like the University Hospital of Newark are not-for-profit and have unstable budgets. Miami’s Jackson Health System, for example, has only 50 days of cash on hand. Private hospitals usually have more than three times the cash reserves. Mark Knight, the chief financial officer of Jackson Healthcare, said the system, which serves between 1,200 and 1,300 patients a day, “will be a financial disaster this year.”
A recent study by the University of California, Berkeley, found that the government formula used to allocate funds to hospitals may be racially biased, resulting in losses for some predominantly black and Hispanic communities, which have been hit harder by the outbreak.