Some of our area hospitals are really getting hurt financially while dealing with the crisis of a global health pandemic all at the same time.

In Atlantic and Cape May Counties, I’m directly referring to Shore Medical Center and Cape Regional Medical Center.

They have been doing incredible work, helping to save lives, while heeding onerous state and federal directives to discontinue all elective surgeries and all other non-emergent services since the middle of March.

This was to help stop the community spread of COVID-19, while also implementing an all hands on deck approach to battle the Coronavirus.

Brian Cahill, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Shore Medical Center, says in a press release,

“This was absolutely the right decision, and while tragically too many lives were lost, many others were saved, and we were able to protect our staff and care for the sick. Hospitals are still abiding by the guidance of the Federal and State governments, and remain completely focused on COVID-19.”

By following these guidelines, our area hospitals, Shore Medical Center and Cape Regional Medical Center have been hit very hard financially.

They’ve experienced a precipitous drop in revenue for elective surgeries and procedures. This has resulted in significant staff reductions in non-clinical areas and substantial salary cuts.

They have done everything within their power to make necessary adjustments. It’s just not enough. The government understands this and passed legislation to provide hospitals with financial relief.

I took a look at the Department of Health and Human Services website. Effective May 1, 2020, HHS awarded $12 billion to 395 hospitals that provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, 2020.

The problem is that most of our smaller area hospitals did not provide inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients.

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Therefore, they don’t qualify to receive any of this much needed government funding. This is devastating news.

It’s all relative when you scale this and take into consideration the scope and size of each hospital and the market that they serve.

This pandemic has severely and negatively impacted the smaller hospitals just as much as the larger hospitals.

You can even make the case, that our smaller hospitals have been hurt more, because their margins were super tight even before the pandemic hit.

“While this relief is to be applauded, many hospitals are left out of the distribution, including Shore Medical Center and Cape Regional Medical Center,” said Cahill.

“We need to make sure that assistance represents the shared sacrifices that healthcare workers at both medical centers have made,” concluded Cahill.

This is patently unfair as both Shore and Cape Regional strictly abided by all Federal and State guidelines. They shut down the myriad of services that they provide and have lost millions of dollars as a direct result.

It’s also important to note that both Shore and Cape Regional treated COVID-19 positive patients since January, 2020. These patients are not counted towards the arbitrary 100 patient minimum, prior to April 10th.

If these treated patients were added to both Shore and Cape Regional’s totals, each hospital would qualify for the funding.

This should never, ever be about picking winners and losers. Local residents have been stepping-up financially to help both community hospitals.

But, in reality, the dollars raised are a mere fraction of the dollars lost.

Finally, just because the number of cases in Atlantic and Cape May Counties is lower as compared to the more densely populated areas of the state and the larger hospitals; they have faced the same risks and turned off their revenue faucet in the name of public service.

No lives are more important than any other lives. This wrong must be righted.

Citizens often forget how much power you have. I am urging all residents who know the importance of the critical daily work being performed by our community hospitals to rise and be counted.

Now is a moment of truth. Exercise your franchise.

Call United States Senators Cory Booker at (973) 639-8700 and Robert Menendez at (973) 645-3030.

Impress upon them that you appreciate their work to help facilitate the legislation required to ask HHS to right this wrong.

I have also spoken with United States Congressman Jeff Van Drew. He has given his full support regarding the effort to amend this injustice.

We Are New Jersey Strong.

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