Alabama hospitals request help from state as revenue dwindles
The Alabama Hospital Association requested a report of ratio of hospital profits to hospital revenues, and the troubling results are in.
“In the state of Alabama, it turned out to be the worst year financially for hospitals since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Kaufman Hall Senior Vice President Erik Swanson.
Kaufman Hall is a nationally known healthcare and higher education consulting firm, and it found hospital margins in Alabama have dropped 79% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That drop comes despite getting financial assistance directly from the federal government and federal funds distributed throughout the state.
“Across all Alabama hospitals expenses rose by nearly $2.6 billion higher than pre-pandemic levels,” Swanson said. “That is 2022 alone.”
As of now, 50% of Alabama’s hospitals are operating in the red, including Whitfield Regional Hospital in Demopolis.
“Our financials are not good,” said Whitfield CEO Douglas Brewer. “In fact, there is no margin. We have lost money every month the last three months. I don’t see an end in sight.”
This problem isn’t going away anytime soon, he said, and it’s affecting patient care.
“I can’t get enough nurses as it is because we can’t afford to pay,” Brewer said. “And there isn’t more to get anyway. I don’t know what is going to happen. And again, it’s not just us.”
In his 32 years in health care, Brewer said he’s been through a lot. But it’s never been this bad.
“I do think people need to know that hospitals are being pushed,” Brewer said. “People are sick right now. We are full every night. Almost every night, we are holding patients in our (emergency department) who are waiting for an ICU bed because ours are full.”
There aren’t enough nurses, either.
“I have a few beds I can’t even staff that I could put them in if I could get the nurses,” he said. “It is very scary because if we shut down, we will have 50 patients who have to find somewhere else to go. I don’t know where they would go, quite frankly. It is something we all need to realize if real very quickly and figure out options to try and fix it.”
Costs have increased by $443 million for Alabama hospitals for medication and supplies over the pandemic period.