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Pandemic Leaves Hospitals On Shaky Financial Footing – COVID-19 Update For May 7

Kaweah Health Medical Center

For many of us, hospitals are pillars of communities, representing safety nets that we hope will always be there. But there’s no guarantee they will be. A new report estimates thatCalifornia’s hospitals have suffered billions of dollars in losses in the last year, and that they could lose billions more before 2021 is through.

The causes: Loss of cash flow from elective and non-emergency procedures, as well as the tremendous costs of intensive treatment and increased staffing needed to care for patients who might spend weeks to months in intensive care units. The problem appears to be worst in areas of the state hit hardest by the pandemic, especially where they intersect with rural populations and high rates of government-sponsored insurance like Medicare and Medi-Cal. These public insurers typically reimburse hospitals at lower rates for care than commercial insurance networks.


This week’s COVID-19 update dives into the findings of the report, featuring Carmela Coyle, president of the California Hospital Association, and Gary Herbst, CEO of Kaweah Health Medical Center in Visalia.


Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication):


As of May 6:

As of 1 week previous, April 29:

  • 4,801 total deaths out of 330,381 total cases
  • 202 people hospitalized and 32 in ICUs
  • 20 deaths reported in the last week
  • 143 average cases reported daily in last week
  • 1,650,259 vaccine doses administered to date

As of 4 weeks previous, April 8:

You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.


Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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