Skip to main content

There are 6146 hospitals in the United States of which 5198 are classified as community hospitals. They employ 7.8 million including 35% of the nation’s physicians. A fourth are owned by private investors; the rest are private not for profit or public hospitals. All face a dark winter.

The second surge of the pandemic has begun: daily infection rates spiked to 184,515, 68,516 are hospitalized and deaths hit 1431 over the weekend. Public health officials estimate deaths could reach 375,000 by the end of the year, up from 246,224 as of November 15, 2020. And despite promising news about emergency use authorization for vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, widespread access is unlikely before Spring 2021. That’s where we are.

According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals saw their revenues shrink $50 billion/month in the pandemic’s first surge last spring. The suspension of “non-essential services” cut 20% from procedures and tests and essentially shut down primary care, orthopedics, dentistry, and other clinical services for almost 3 months.

Providence and Health Evolution COVID-19 Innovation Guides: Returning to the Next Normal, Parts 1 and 2

Some hospitals were hurt more than others: by the end of the third quarter, 2020, about half had recovered more than 70% of the services they suspended and restored day to day operations albeit with added precaution for infection control and worker safety.

For 70 years, hospitals have affirmed that…

    • ‘We are necessary to community health and economic vitality’

    • ‘We serve the public’s interest by providing high quality, cost effective evidence-based care’

    • ‘We are efficient and cost effective. We are not wasteful’

    • ‘We are underfunded and over-regulated’

Though credible studies have challenged these assertions to varying degrees, the efforts of hospitals to garner the public’s trust and confidence have worked. Polls show Americans trust hospitals and physicians (67%) for their medical needs over other options over urgent care (29%) and retail solutions (10%). And Gallup’s Institutional Confidence Monitoring Surveys show confidence in the medical system (aka hospitals and physicians) up at 51%–the highest since 1977.