You Ask, We Investigate: COVID-19 pandemic affecting financial health of Washington Regional

You Ask, We Answer

Washington Regional in April furloughed 305 employees

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner found out how the elimination of elective procedures is impacting Washington Regional.

Washington Regional eliminated elective surgeries in March 2020.

An elective surgery is one that is preplanned by both the patient and the physician and is not urgent or emergent. Examples include cosmetic surgeries, cataract surgery and having a hip replaced.

“The CDC and the governor asked that hospitals not do elective procedures as we were preparing for the coronavirus surge,” said Thomas, Vice President and Medical Director of Population Health for Washington Regional.

Thomas said elective procedures provide a large portion of the cash flow for the hospital.

“It’s anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of our revenue,” he said.

As a result, the hospital has taken significant measures to protect itself during this crisis.

“We announced the furlough of 305 full-time equivalent staff,” Thomas said. “Furlough is not a layoff and we do continue to support those employees with benefits. And, we anticipate that they will be able to come back to work at the end of that furloughed period. Also, Washington Regional’s senior management have taken as much as a 25% reduction in pay and all salaried employees have taken a 10% reduction in pay.”

Thomas said the hospital is handling the crisis in the best way possible.

“This is all done in the interest of the health system so we can continue to provide excellent health care to the people of Washington County and this region,” he said.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday (April 22) said he will lift restrictions currently in place banning elective procedures in the state on Monday (April 27).

Washington Regional said after it has had an opportunity to carefully consider all guidance issued by the Arkansas Department of Health, it will make decisions regarding resumption of elective procedures.

If there is something in your community that you want to know more about, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@KNWA.com.

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