UVM Health Network Confronting Financial Toll of COVID-19
Focus remains on providing high quality care
BURLINGTON, Vt. – March 11 will mark one year since the first patient diagnosed with COVID-19 received care from the UVM Health Network. Since that time, the Network has worked vigorously to fight the pandemic, educate our communities and distribute vaccines to stop the spread – all while focusing on safely meeting the health care needs of our patients across Vermont and Northern New York.
However, as with other hospitals and health systems across the country, we continue to address financial challenges resulting from the pandemic, with a $21.3 million loss to date in the current fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2020.
Despite relief payments, including $39.1 million from state and federal CARES Act funding, the Network missed its budget target by more than $28 million at the end of our January reporting period, four months into our current fiscal year. Over the same time period, margin targets – the funds left over after expenses which we use to invest in the sustainability and improvement of our operations – were not met, as a result of the Network’s financial performance. Achieving margin goals is critical to a health care organization’s mission to respond to the needs of its patients and communities. Additional federal funding is anticipated after this reporting period, and is expected to stem some of our losses.
“Our number one priority throughout the pandemic has been to make sure our patients have access to the care they need. I am incredibly proud of our talented team who have been working tirelessly to care for our patients and for playing a key role in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said John R. Brumsted, MD, CEO of the UVM Health Network. “Across our country, health systems are seeing patients delaying care, mostly out of fear of COVID-19. Our region is not immune to that trend, and it has had the added negative effect of significantly impacting our finances. One-time events like the cyberattack and suspension of outpatient surgical procedures at the Fanny Allen campus at UVM Medical Center also had an impact.
“The strong financial support we’ve received from federal and state leaders is helping us weather this storm, and we are grateful for this support.”
This marks the second fiscal year that financial challenges, compounded by the pandemic, have impacted the Network’s operating margin. Despite proactive cost-saving measures totaling more than $52 million and significant payments from state and federal CARES Act funding, the Network ended the last fiscal year in 2020 with a $16.3 million operating loss.
In an effort to create long-term sustainability and improve financial performance in the current fiscal year, Network affiliates are actively working on plans to address their specific financial challenges.
Declining patient visits to health care providers during the pandemic is a trend currently taking place across the United States. Based upon data from a February 2021 National Hospital Flash Report by Kaufman Hall, Emergency Department visits are down nationally by 25 percent, and hospital discharges are down 18 percent. At various points throughout the pandemic, patient visits in some areas of the UVM Health Network have been down by up to 25 percent. This national pattern could have far reaching public health impacts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delaying or avoiding medical care may increase morbidity and mortality for patients who suffer from both chronic and acute health conditions.
About The University of Vermont Health Network
The University of Vermont Health Network is an integrated system serving the residents of Vermont and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives. The partners are:
- The University of Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network Medical Group
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Porter Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Home Health & Hospice
Our 4,000 health care professionals are driven to provide high-quality, cost-efficient care as close to home as possible. Strengthened by our academic connection to the University of Vermont, each of our affiliates remains committed to its local community by providing compassionate, personal care shaped by the latest medical advances and delivered by highly skilled experts.