Hospitals in Arizona welcomed the return of elective surgeries this month. Many facilities paused services to make room for a possible influx of COVID-19 patients leading to financial setbacks. That included Tucson Medical Center, which estimates shortfalls totaled $16 million in March and April. Chief Operating Officer Mimi Coomler discussed furloughs and pay cuts the hospital implemented, as well as how it is reintroducing elective procedures.
“In surgery, we have reduced our surgical volume by 60%. Diagnostic mammography we put on hold entirely. And so many of our health care workers, we’ve tried to preserve their benefits and their positions, but we’ve reduced their hours. In some cases, up to 60% and in most cases at 30%, minimally,” Coomler said.
TMC looked to guidance put out by Medicare about how to prioritize which elective procedures it should schedule first, according to Coomler. Administrators are also getting feedback from the hospital’s various surgical teams.
“The thing that concerns me or keeps me up at night is the dramatic reductions in heart attacks and strokes that are presenting to the emergency department. And I worry that we have people who say, ‘I don’t want to get COVID so I’m not going to go to the hospital,’ but that decision would result in something worse than COVID,” Coomler said.