The worst of the pandemic may be over but hospitals still recovering

Dr. Anthony Fauci announcing the worst of the pandemic may be over in the U.S. but coast hospitals are still in recovery mode.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 6:42 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The worst of the COVID-19 pandemic may be over, but just like the patients they care for, hospitals, including Memorial in Gulfport, are still in recovery mode.

Every day for two years, health care workers were in crisis mode.

“From the minute we woke up to the minute we went to bed every night, we were thinking about our next move,” said Kristian Speer, Memorial clinical director. “We would decide on Monday that on Tuesday we needed to prop up a vaccine site or a testing center, or we got word that we had access to monoclonal antibodies. Get them in right away.”

In crisis mode, the big picture isn’t always clear.

“There were so many things we had to think about in such a short period of time that I don’t think I realized the magnitude of it until Kent talked about it today,” said Anne Musgrove, Memorial advance practice director.

The magnitude of dealing with life and death during the COVID-19 pandemic was overwhelming.

Memorial Health System President and CEO Kent Nicaud knows it personally.

“My mother was here and died of COVID,” he said, holding back tears. “I’m thinking about what those teams did to take care of her during that time. The communication, not just because it was me. They did this with all of our affected COVID patients.”

Also overwhelming are the financial costs.

Nicaud provided the expanded management group with Memorial with that stark reality.

“Our total COVID expenses: $134 million,” Nicaud said. “We were reimbursed about $46 million.”

He added that the federal government needs to step up to help.

Nicaud said this week, the American Hospital Association reported that one-third of all hospitals in the country are currently operating on a negative margin.

He added that Memorial is taking cost-cutting measures, mostly through administrative restructuring, eliminating only two positions and without affecting patient care.

Nicaud said Memorial has improved cash flow 76% for our first six months this year compared to last year.

Matt Walker, vice president of clinic operations, said things are looking up.

“If we can just keep pushing forward, everything recovers over the next six months or so,” Walker said.

“Every day, as long as it’s going the right way, is a step in the right direction,” Nicaud said.

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