That’s one costly freezer

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

The snow may have melted but it seems the costs as­so­ci­ated with re­cent snow­storms are still pil­ing up for some hos­pi­tals.

When the new year be­gan, Mary­land hos­pi­tals didn’t bank on heavy snow­storms adding to their fi­nan­cial headaches for 2010.

But af­ter the East Coast was hit hard by back-to-back bl­iz­zards, the Mary­land Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion asked their mem­bers to de­ter­mine how much they spent on ev­ery­thing re­lated to the storms, in­clud­ing over­time for em­ploy­ees, meals, trans­porta­tion, ex­tended hospi­tal stays for pa­tients who would have been dis­charged oth­er­wise, and, of course, snow re­moval. The as­so­ci­a­tion hopes to ap­peal for fed­eral fund­ing to re­coup those costs.

“The gov­er­nor de­clared a state of emer­gency, which means the state is el­i­gi­ble for FEMA fund­ing, so that may be one av­enue,” says Carmela Coyle, CEO of the Mary­land Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion, re­fer­ring to funds from Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency. “So we wanted to doc­u­ment it,” she says. Coyle adds that while some busi­nesses closed dur­ing the storms, hos­pi­tals re­mained open—and filled to ca­pac­ity—24 hours a day, seven days a week. “We stay open re­gard­less of the weather.”

Coyle ex­plains that some hos­pi­tals had in­curred ho­tel costs to keep staff close to work, while oth­ers rented four-wheel-drive ve­hi­cles to trans­port em­ploy­ees or pick up pa­tients in need of ser­vices, such as dial­y­sis. Hos­pi­tals have started to sub­mit their costs, al­though the as­so­ci­a­tion has not yet an­a­lyzed the re­sults. This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in the state of Mary­land, Coyle ex­plains, be­cause Mary­land is the only “fixed-rate” state, which means the state’s Health Ser­vices Cost Re­view Com­mis­sion sets fixed pay­ments for hos­pi­tals, re­gard­less of ex­traor­di­nary cir­cum­stances.

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