By Nancy Galvagni
As Kentucky hospitals have stepped up to meet the challenge of fighting COVID-19 in the commonwealth, the Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) has been there to support its members.
KHA has been active throughout this crisis to provide information and assistance to each of its members. As the voice of Kentucky hospitals, KHA has focused on advocating for the needs of member hospitals to help them care for their patients.
We have worked closely with the Governor’s office, the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the Inspector General and the Department for Medicaid Services to secure necessary state waivers to assure hospitals could appropriately respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
KHA led the development of guidance for cancelling elective procedures in March per the request of the Governor, and the Association recently submitted recommendations on a phased reopening approach, which will protect patients while reserving hospital capacity and resources to meet any spike in COVID-19 cases that may occur as businesses begin to reopen.
We have also worked closely with the state to assist with data collection, and KHA has published information to keep its membership informed of trends in capacity, personal protective equipment (PPE) and admissions related to COVID-19. KHA is continuing to assist our members with ways in which to secure testing and PPE to support hospital operations as they resume.
KHA also requested waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and has been meeting with Kentucky’s congressional delegation and their teams to explain challenges hospitals are facing during the pandemic and how they can help provide relief to Kentucky’s hospitals.
Kentucky hospital revenue has declined significantly – by an estimated $ 1.3 billion for just an eight-week period – due to hospitals being required to cancel elective procedures.
Hospitals were ready and willing to do anything to protect their healthcare workers and the public and postponing medically necessary care to maintain capacity to treat COVID-19 patients was the best choice for Kentucky. But without the revenue from those procedures, hospitals could no longer afford to support maintaining this stand-by capacity which is why furloughs have occurred.
KHA is continuing to work with our leaders to target additional federal dollars to Kentucky’s hospitals so that they will emerge strong to be able to continue serving their communities.
KHA has also kept in close communication with our members through Daily Updates and weekly calls and webinars. The resources and meetings we have provided our members throughout the pandemic were created to bring hospitals across the state together, and hospitals have gone above and beyond to work in concert, support each other and safely provide the highest quality of care for all Kentuckians.
-Nancy Galvagni is president and CEO at the Kentucky Hospital Association.