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.