Oregon hospital association says pandemic costs continue to outweigh revenue

The number and severity of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, paired with rising labor costs, means that revenue from patients is lower than hospitals' operating expenses.

Posted: Sep 30, 2021 11:53 AM
Updated: Sep 30, 2021 2:05 PM

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — An organization representing Oregon hospitals says that the Delta wave of the pandemic continued to threaten medical providers financially in the second quarter of 2021, according to a performance report gathered by Apprise Health Insights.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems said in a statement that hospital patient visits in every category — inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room — increased over the first quarter of 2021. The second quarter covers data from the beginning of April to the end of June.

"Many patients admitted to the hospital are very sick with COVID and are staying longer, continuing a rise that began with the start of the pandemic (up 11 percent when compared to 2019 levels)," OAHHS said. "While such cases are contributing to revenue increases, any gains are offset by higher care costs for treating patients with more severe conditions."

Net patient revenue fell short of total operating expenses for the fourth quarter in a row, due in large part to these longer hospitals stays. OAHHS also pointed to the cost of labor, which it said has gone up 20 percent over the past three years.

Meanwhile, hospitals continue to report major staffing shortages as some healthcare workers leave their jobs or take time off due to illness, exhaustion, or stress.

"Hospitals report some recent success recruiting replacements but incentives such as higher pay and sign-on bonuses are adding to expenses," OAHHS said.

Analysts from Apprise reported that these trends will likely get worse in the next quarter, since COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations broke records throughout the summer. Hospitals reported staffing and bed shortages, thousands of canceled or delayed elective procedures, and limited community placements after hospitalization leading to delayed care.

“The data tell the story of our overwhelmed hospital system, which has been pushed to the breaking point by the recent surge,” said Andy Van Pelt, CEO of Apprise Health Insights. “Adding to the stress of the staffing shortage taking its toll on patient care is the financial pressure from rising labor costs and lower Net Patient Revenue. We believe these trends will continue into the next quarterly reporting period.”

Other metrics, like median operating margins and median total margins — which includes investment income — improved in the second quarter after declining for the two previous quarters. But OAHHS said that it expects further setbacks to hospitals' recovery due to the Delta sruge between July and September, which will be part of the third quarter.

"Furthermore, other operating revenue, including grants and federal CARES Act funds, continues to show up on hospital balance sheets," OAHHS said. "Margin figures could be affected as hospitals finish their reporting requirements and those funds no longer appear."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 396501

Reported Deaths: 5268
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah61066850
Washington42631406
Marion40277517
Clackamas33256388
Lane30473363
Jackson25211363
Deschutes23984192
Umatilla15155184
Linn14966184
Douglas13608295
Josephine10357248
Yamhill9878145
Klamath9120152
Polk8347103
Benton622940
Malheur593592
Coos5806109
Columbia441156
Jefferson426066
Lincoln367952
Crook343958
Union341456
Wasco319646
Clatsop265435
Baker222533
Tillamook219846
Hood River217237
Morrow198425
Curry194239
Harney121733
Grant109116
Lake106318
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1161
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5127121

Reported Deaths: 74911
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153745027248
San Diego4104514351
Riverside3912955388
San Bernardino3784085998
Orange3367395771
Sacramento1699162460
Kern1588341838
Fresno1581872284
Santa Clara1536961933
Alameda1262241513
San Joaquin1084911837
Ventura1049251194
Contra Costa1046451058
Stanislaus922291434
Tulare869791102
San Francisco57458674
San Mateo56861631
Monterey52973626
Solano48014360
Santa Barbara47846555
Merced45506672
Sonoma43609414
Placer42736473
Imperial39148778
Kings35547369
San Luis Obispo31803360
Madera26511311
Shasta26353462
Butte25690320
Santa Cruz22540224
Yolo21792263
Marin18728249
El Dorado18544168
Sutter14691186
Napa13501107
Yuba1084791
Humboldt10360119
Tehama10329133
Nevada10187105
Mendocino873799
Lassen801259
San Benito793979
Tuolumne782691
Lake7073113
Amador583267
Siskiyou480757
Glenn460336
Calaveras449988
Del Norte380442
Colusa329821
Inyo259446
Plumas19679
Mono19274
Mariposa163318
Trinity102117
Modoc7956
Unassigned3820
Sierra2210
Alpine1080
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