With ban on non-urgent surgeries, Juneau hospital says it’s losing $250,000 a day

A triage tent is set up to screen patients for symptoms of COVID-19 outside on Monday, April 7, 2020, at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Juneau’s city-owned Bartlett Hospital has lost about $250,000 a day in revenue since mid-March, when the state ordered the postponement or cancelation of all non-urgent surgeries and procedures to prioritize the response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Bartlett Regional Hospital has also spent about $600,000 on equipment, supplies and labor preparing for the pandemic. Chief Financial Officer Kevin Benson said it’s not clear if and when the hospital will be reimbursed for that money, but it’s exploring options to recoup funding through FEMA, the newly-passed federal CARES Act or an insurance claim for business interruption. 

“I think the bigger concern for us, from a financial impact, is the loss of revenue,” Benson told the hospital’s finance committee on Friday. 

By the end of March, the hospital was short about $2.3 million in revenue, Benson said, and it has lost about the same amount in the first nine days of April. The total revenue shortfall for April is expected to be $4 million, he added.

The statewide ban on non-urgent procedures extends through June 15. Many medical facilities are experiencing losses due to the ban, which is mean to conserve personal protective equipment.

Correction: This story has been updated to show that the hospital lost about $2.1 million in revenue in the first nine days of April. 

Rashah McChesney is a photojournalist turned radio journalist who has been telling stories in Alaska since 2012. Before joining Alaska's Energy Desk, she worked at Kenai's Peninsula Clarion and the Juneau bureau of the Associated Press. She is a graduate of Iowa State University's Greenlee Journalism School and has worked in public television, newspapers and now radio, all in the quest to become the Swiss Army knife of storytellers.

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