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Middle Park Health seeing fewer patients during pandemic

Reduced hours for staff as a result of lost revenues

Middle Park Health has seen a steep decline in patients since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state leading to fewer hours for staff and less revenue for the hospital.
McKenna Harford / mharford@skyhinews.com

Patient visits have dropped off significantly at Middle Park Health since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the state, leading the hospital to reduce staff hours.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jason Cleckler said Middle Park Health is lucky enough for not having to lay off staff at this time, but the hospital is seeing decreased revenue.

“Thankfully we haven’t had to lay anybody off, but that being said, we’ve had to staff to our volumes, so people are working fewer hours than they normally would,” Cleckler said. “We are concerned about the decrease in the volume because it obviously leads to a decrease in revenue.”

Cleckler estimates patient volumes are down 50% in the emergency department, down 70% in surgeries and 80% in clinic visits. 

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Cleckler said the drop is partly because of canceled elective surgeries and fewer primary care appointments. There have been no COVID-19 hospitalizations in Grand County and only five positive tests out of 122 tests.

“We haven’t seen the surge of COVID patients that you hear about in New York City, New Orleans, Detroit, or even closer, we haven’t seen the number of patients that they’ve had in Eagle or Summit counties,” Cleckler said.

Middle Park Health has also applied to several different funding resources and received some help through a CARES Act loan from the federal government and a loan from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, but the money doesn’t come without strings.

“It has helped us to maintain our financial position, but the concern with all of that, is at least a portion of it, right now, would be owed back, so we have to be cautious about how we utilize that money,” Cleckler explained. “We received enough money to cover about four days of operations.”

Tiffany Freitag, director of community relations for the hospital, added that they have received grants for personal protection equipment, as well as local donations of equipment and food.

“There are so many organizations, groups and individuals that have donated, it’s hard to keep track of all the donations coming in,” Freitag said. “They’re so greatly appreciated and we’re using them.”

She added that the Middle Park Medical Foundation, the nonprofit that supports the hospital, is working to help employees with reduced hours after finishing a successful season fundraiser in March that will also fund the annual scholarships for some graduating high school seniors.

So far, no hospital projects have had to be delayed or canceled, including the expansion and remodeling of the Granby and Kremmling campuses and the construction of a new clinic in Fraser.

At the hospital, there are hopes patient volumes could pick back up with the safer at home phase of the state’s pandemic response, which allows more elective surgeries and clinics to safely reopen.

Plus, Middle Park Health plans to continue a new way of offering care through telehealth options for all of its services, which Cleckler said patients have been quick to get on board with.

As the state slowly starts to reopen, Cleckler feels confident that Middle Park Health is prepared should the county see a surge of cases since hospital officials have been working closely with Grand County Public Health and the COVID-19 Response Team since the beginning.

“For us (this time) has been a lot about preparing for a surge, but in the meantime seeing a drop across the board in volume,” he said. “We’re prepared from a testing standpoint and from a treatment standpoint.”


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