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Study suggests S.C. hospitals will continue to struggle from COVID-19 financial impacts

Hospitals in the Abilene, Bryan-College Station and Laredo areas have run out of intensive care...
Hospitals in the Abilene, Bryan-College Station and Laredo areas have run out of intensive care unit beds as the number of coronavirus infections continue to soar throughout the state.(Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 9:50 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The coronavirus pandemic has taken a financial toll on hospitals across the state and the nation, and a new study suggests they may not be in the clear just yet as they face new and continuing challenges this year.

While things are certainly more positive today than they were a year ago as the coronavirus pandemic was first taking its hold on the Palmetto State, 2021 will not bring a total return to normal for hospital finances.

“Our forecast that total hospital revenues in 2021 could be down between $53 billion and $122 billion (4 percent to 10 percent of total revenue) is bad news, indeed,” the study released by the American Hospital Association stated. “Whether recovery from COVID-19 in 2021 is relatively rapid or relatively slow, America’s hospitals will face another year of struggle to regain their financial health while providing necessary care and services to a nation that is continuing to experience the effects of an unprecedented pandemic.”

The study suggests that even under the most optimistic scenario, including a smooth vaccine roll-out and reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations, 39 percent of hospitals would operate in the red in 2021, and rural hospitals will be especially impacted.

“As hospital executives, policymakers, and other stakeholders seek to understand hospitals’ financial state in 2021, a new set of interconnected factors must be considered; Recovery of hospital volumes: The degree and pace at which inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department volumes return; COVID-19 vaccine progress: The availability of vaccines, the speed of distribution, and the prioritization of different populations for vaccination; Decline in COVID-19 cases: The degree and pace at which COVID-19 cases decline, based on public use of social distancing and achievement of herd immunity,” the study stated.

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