Hospital gets cash infusion

Benewah Community Hospital received $3.5 million in federal aid as a part of the CARES Act which provides aid to rural hospitals impacted by the coronavirus.

Benewah Community Hospital received approximately $3.5 million in federal aid.

The money is part of a grant made possible by the CARES Provider Relief Fund which included provisions for rural hospitals that are struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds will help BCH but it is unclear how much according to Board Vice Chairman Carol Humphrey.

“They are limited to COVID-19. Anything we use the funds for has to be used related to covid whether it be equipment or employee layoffs. So it has to be related and not just for something we want to do,” Ms. Humphrey said.

Until the pandemic, BCH was on a path to financial recovery. The ending of non-emergent services and elective surgeries quickly reversed that trend. As of April 15, the hospital was losing $8,900 per day in cash, and had 25 days of operating expenses covered, according to Chief Financial Officer Lori Minier.

A current financial report was not provided in time for publication. However, Chief Executive Officer Chuck Lloyd did say that the situation is improving.

“The hospital stopped elective procedures. Those are starting again. But it is not necessarily back to normal,” Mr. Lloyd said. “Revenues will be down but as we are able to return to prior patient volumes we will turn back to where we were.”

Elective procedures are considered on a case-by-case basis in order to limit the use of personal protective equipment, PPE.

“PPE is worrisome at this point. We have to be careful as we only have so much. And we have to plan and take everything on a case-by-case basis to ensure that we have enough PPE if we were to have an issue with covid,” Mr. Lloyd said.

When things will return to normal is as much an unknown at the hospital as it is anywhere else. The relief funds are intended to cover an extended time frame in preparation of COVID possibly returning in the fall.

“There are no hard set dates,” Mr. Lloyd said. “We are moving and taking into advisement with the governor’s plan and seeing if it works with the hospital and the community and the patients that we serve.”

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