On Tuesday morning, Midland Health officials involved in the morning COVID update decided to reach out to those who believe the hospital was taking advantage of a pandemic to make money.
“We don’t make money,” said Stephen Bowerman, Midland Health’s chief operating officer. “Given the past few months and the surge in the census we’ve seen, if the city and county hadn’t provided more than $ 4.75 million in hospital grants to support these trips, we would have suffered significant losses to cover nurses I was talking about to cover incentive layers for our own staff and to give a bonus to all of our employees below director level. “
Bowerman refers to recent votes by the Midland City Council and Midland County Commissioners’ Court to allocate funds under the American Rescue Plan Act to Midland Memorial Hospital.
“We are very grateful to the city council and district commissioners for agreeing to this,” Bowerman said. “Our employees are grateful. I think our partnership with the city and the district is stronger than ever. Not that it was weak, but they were in step with us, all three organizations together, through this pandemic. “
Chief Medical Officer Larry Wilson also responded to allegations on social media and from hospital critics who said hospital officials “intentionally do not use some of the alternative therapies because it extends hospital stays and raises hospital money.”
Wilson said the facts do not support the narrative. He said in recent months as the COVID count hit record highs during the pandemic that the “net operating loss for our hospital” was double what Midland Health had in previous months.
Wilson said during Tuesday’s press conference that if there is a COVID admission, a bundled payment – a fixed number – will result in long hospital stays because oxygen requirements and other interventions exceed the amount normally payable. “
“So if you have a misunderstanding that we make money from COVID and that we are not doing everything we can to overcome it by vaccinating people using Regeneron Therapy,” said Wilson, “please realize that it’s not a winner for us and we try to make sure our community is healthy, which is our mission. “
Wilson said there was “no money” to making extended hospital stays or keeping MMH beds full, but the best option is to get a “diagnostic code” that will help admit a patient and he or she will quickly follow up Going home.
“It’s a win for us and we don’t see wins like that,” said Wilson.
Bowerman also said that people need to bear in mind that the hospital has suffered increased costs as they have to pay “incentive pay” for extra-shift workers and travel staff who help communities in an emergency but also receive top dollar for their work.
Russell Meyers, President / CEO of Midland Health, told city and county leaders that part of the money he requested from both facilities would be used on travel nurses and incentive shifts for a two month period.
Bowerman said Tuesday that although the COVID count has decreased by nearly 50 in the past few weeks, an unusually high count of 223 inpatients remains in the MMH.
“So don’t forget that we depend on outside collaborators for the work we do today,” said Bowerman. “The fact that the COVID count is falling is very positive. But we are not out of the forest. “
Midland Memorial’s bottom line has also been impacted as it cannot offer elective inpatient surgeries due to the need for beds from our COVID patients. Bowerman said there will be discussions over the next week about the hospital’s ability to do so.
“If we don’t offer elective inpatient surgery,” Bowerman said, “it tells you we’re still under a lot of stress in the hospital. So please keep that in mind. “