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Gillette hospital cutting costs as pandemic's financial implications worsen
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Gillette hospital cutting costs as pandemic's financial implications worsen

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Campbell County Health

This May 5, 2019, photo shows the Campbell County Hospital in Gillette. The hospital has had to cut costs in light of the coronavirus.

Campbell County Health is the latest Wyoming hospital to cut executive pay and employee hours as facilities across the state and country continue to feel the fiscal impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Revenues at the Gillette hospital have dropped by more than 50 percent and “decreased our cash reserves to a level that is very concerning,” the hospital’s CEO said in a statement Friday, directly tying the situation to the pandemic. Earlier this month, Wyoming Medical Center announced it was cutting hours of nonclinical staff and that its leadership was taking a pay cut.

Through the end of June, the Gillette facility will cut its CEO pay by 50 percent, cut its senior management pay by 20 percent, cut other leadership pay by 5 percent, restructure departments, cut hours for leadership by eight hours per pay period, put a freeze on capital expenditures, furlough some employees and departments, enact “mandatory hourly reductions across most departments” and put a freeze on any educational travel.

The employees who will be furloughed will “keep their benefits and be brought back to work within six to 12 weeks.”

Hospitals, particularly smaller ones, are seeing their revenues in free-fall because all have suspended elective surgeries and outpatient procedures to preserve equipment, physicians and hospital beds for coronavirus preparations. Those suspended procedures are the real moneymakers for hospitals, as they subsidize emergent and primary care services that typically cost more money than they make.

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The cruel irony is that the very preparation for the coronavirus pandemic is putting an increasing strain on hospitals just as they’re most needed. Eric Boley, who leads the Wyoming Hospital Association, said last week that some facilities had seen their revenue drop by as much as 70 percent because of the suspended procedures.

“We need to take measures now in order to continue to provide healthcare to our community in the short term and remain financially viable moving forward,” Campbell County Health CEO Andy Fitzgerald said in a statement. ‘We are also taking these actions so we can continue to provide a high level of care to address this crisis.

“We recognize that this will impact our employees who have been working tirelessly to prepare our organization for this pandemic and keep our community safe and healthy,” he added. “These actions are the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my over 30 years of working in healthcare.”

The chairman of the hospital’s board, Ian Swift, said that CCH would “be looking to our legislative delegation and the state of Wyoming” to help keep it afloat via federal funding. Sen. John Barrasso, a former Casper doctor, told the Star-Tribune earlier this month that he had urged federal health officials to support rural facilities.

Boley said hospitals are trying to avoid closures but that it was increasingly an option. Any closure here would be significant: Most counties have only one hospital, many of which have relatively little cash on hand.

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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