CRMC expects losses of over $20 million from COVID-19

By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ

COOKEVILLE – Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) CEO Paul Korth informed members of the Cookeville City Council during Monday’s budget workshop that he expects CRMC losses in excess of $20 million resulting from COVID-19, but he expects to have the facility back to 95% or more by the end of July. 

“Volumes in April alone were down 70% across the whole hospital,” said Korth. “We had some departments that were completely closed for the entire month of April.”

On a positive note, Korth shared that elective procedures had restarted. 

“We have a very busy week, as we start to get this facility back up,” Korth said. 

Korth also sees a lot of growth opportunities for the coming year.

“We’ve got a general surgery surgicalists program that is going to start July 1,” shared Korth. “That is going to be energizing for our medical center. That will give our general surgeons more time to schedule elective cases.”

The surgicalists will take care of the patients coming through the emergency room or when the hospitalist needs a surgery consult or a surgery done, according to Korth. 

CRMC expects an additional 800 surgeries this year as a result of the program.

Several new physicians will join the CRMC staff later this year. A new Vanderbilt-trained neurosurgeon will start in early summer, working with Dr. Jestus, and the team will add another cardiologist.

Korth told council members that he would like to get the 401K match back up to the 3% level. Last year’s budget included a 2.5% match, but that program is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 losses.

One of the biggest cost increases is the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff. The cost to equip a staff member to enter the room of an isolated patient has risen from $2 to $25 per staff member for each time they must enter the room.   

Equipment maintenance is expected to increase $1 million due to many items having their original warrantees and service contracts expiring. 

Korth projects a net income of $5.3 million for 2020-2021, which is the same as this year’s projection before the impact of COVID-19.

Capital projects in the near future for the hospital include replacing the 20-year old nurse call system, replacing the cardiac lab including three 15-year old cardiac ultrasound machines, replacing the second-generation da Vinci surgical robot with a new fourth-generation model, replacing old beds and stretchers, expanding the parking lots and replacing over 200 18-year old IV pumps.   

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