Without a cash infusion, this Pennsylvania hospital's future is uncertain, CEO says

Bucktail (Pa.) Medical Center CEO Tim Reeves told Becker's that a cash infusion is "really necessary" to ensure that the hospital can continue to pay its vendors and keep its doors open.

The hospital lost $150,000 per month in 2022. However, according to Mr. Reeves, the hospital's monetary problems go deeper than just continued financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"In October 2015, we voluntarily entered into Chapter 11 reorganization. We came out of that bankruptcy in March 2018," said Mr. Reeves. "When I came to the facility in 2014, we literally measured hours of cash on hand."

For Mr. Reeves, Bucktail Medical Center's struggles point to a greater crisis where "insurers, including government insurers, need to better understand the challenges of providing care in rural America."

"Let's say we are paying the doctor $100 per hour. If he sees two patients per day —a busy day for us is six or seven patients — then we are going to get about $125 for each of those patients for his professional fees. That's $250. That means $2,150 we don't get reimbursed for. It is the nature of rural healthcare."

The hospital's critical access designation is designed to increase reimbursement from Medicare and help the rural hospital survive. Despite Medicare users making up over 40 percent of Bucktail's patients, Mr. Reeves says that the government reimbursement is still challenging to survive on.

"Critical access designation gives us some help from Medicare, mostly inpatient. They will reimburse us at 101 percent of the cost," he said."However, that doesn't happen when we provide service, that's after the fiscal year is over. It may be six or eight months until that's reconciled. They're also taking 2 percent sequestration away from us, so we're really only getting reimbursed 99 percent of cost, which is still certainly better than medical assistance."

The hospital has turned to the community and government leaders for help, including creating a GoFundMe for the hospital. Mr. Reeves said that the hospital will meet its Sept. 22 payroll. However, unless it can raise the funds necessary to pay vendors, its future is uncertain. 

"They're [vendors] operating business, and they have to get paid," he said. "Without something, the equation eventually just falls apart because we either stop getting products or services. Regardless of whether we make payroll or not, we can't operate without some of those things."


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars