by Wayne Smith, President & CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association
Delaware’s rehabilitation hospitals and healthcare workers are among those on the front lines actively fighting COVID-19, particularly for high-risk individuals. Like our general acute care hospitals, they are also facing significant financial loss because of the pandemic.
Rehabilitation hospitals provide much-needed assistance for individuals who have been through a serious injury or illness, such as a stroke, hip fracture or other complex neurological and orthopedic conditions. These facilities provide physical, speech and occupational therapy to help Delawareans regain strength and independence after their life-changing injury or illness.
Much of the patient volume from Delaware’s rehabilitation hospitals typically comes from Delaware’s general acute care hospitals. For example, a senior who receives hip surgery in an acute care hospital typically spends a few days in the hospital post-surgery before they are discharged. While they no longer need to be in the acute care hospital, they are not ready to be sent home. Instead, they will need several weeks of rehabilitation to fully recover. This is why rehabilitation hospitals are so important.
During COVID-19, Delaware’s acute care hospitals canceled non-emergency surgeries and procedures. This means less patients coming to Delaware’s acute care hospitals, and thereby, less patients being sent to recuperate in Delaware’s rehabilitation hospitals.
The significant reduction in patients for the past few months translates to total losses of more than half a million dollars per month for the Delaware rehabilitation hospitals that are members of the Delaware Healthcare Association. In addition, these hospitals are spending nearly $18,000 per month on extraordinary COVID-19 expenses, such as the purchase of significantly more personal protective equipment for employees and patients.
In anticipation of hospital surge from our state’s health systems, rehabilitation hospitals are prepared to take patients as overflow to help flatten the hospitalization curve and preserve bed availability for those patients needing COVID-19 care. In addition, rehabilitation hospitals took on patients post recovery from COVID-19. This required additional purchasing of PPE and staff education to safely manage these patients and have them return to the community.
“The close coordination between our local acute health systems in DE and PAM Rehabilitation Hospital of Dover, allowed patients to transfer for medical management and care to our rehabilitation hospital. This preserved precious bed availability in the acute care systems in our state and allowed the patients to receive a superior level of care to once again ultimately thrive in our community” said Ted Werner CEO of PAM Rehabilitation Hospital of Dover.
Our rehabilitation hospitals need financial support to ensure patients will receive the rehabilitation they need as hospital elective surgeries and procedures resume.
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