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In Deepening Financial Hole, Hospitals Want Their Patients Back

Miami Valley Hospital.
Joshua Chenault
/
WYSO
Miami Valley Hospital.

Since the start of the pandemic, Ohio’s hospitals have seen their normal busy patient volumes evaporate. Nonessential procedures were banned, supplies were scarce, and fear of contagion was everywhere. But now health care leaders in the Miami Valley want people to start going back to the doctor. And it’s not only about keeping people healthy. WYSO’s Jason Saul reports.

In addition to its lifesaving function, healthcare is big business here in the Miami Valley. In 2017, Kettering Health Network reported earning just over $1.7 billion in revenue. In 2018, Premier Health had at least fifteen executives on the payroll making over half a million dollars each.

All those canceled elective surgeries are huge moneymakers for hospitals. Some hospitals only do elective surgeries. And on top of that, a lot of people who have been getting sick — even seriously sick — have been putting off getting care. So, without all those missing patients, Dayton’s hospitals are in a financial bind.

"This has had a significant impact to our hospitals and their operations, but also to the employees of our organizations," said Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, on a call with reporters last week. "We typically really weave to those two components together when we talk about the economic impact of our region's hospitals."

According to data from the Ohio Bureau of Labor Market Information, hospitals in the Dayton metro shed about 2.5  percent of their jobs between January and April of this year. Some additional employees have been furloughed, and many more have taken pay cuts. But hospitals are saying that, as patient volumes recover, the plan is to bring those people back to work.