Excela Health officials are waiting to find out if more federal aid will become available before tapping into the health system’s reserves to cover roughly $28 million in unreimbursed losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health system got some relief in the form of $10.4 million in federal CARES Act funding, which helped offset some of the $38 million in coronavirus losses it experienced between March and May.
But officials at Excela and other hospitals are unsure if more federal funding is headed toward health care systems, Excela CEO John Sphon said at Excela’s annual meeting Monday.
The abrupt halt in non-emergency medical services in response to the coronavirus pandemic hit Excela Health hard in March, erasing a financial turnaround that saw the health system’s operations turning a profit prior to the pandemic, according to a report issued last month by the health system.
The losses came after Excela ended February by posting a net income of $3 million — a $14 million turnaround compared to February 2019, when the health system showed an $11 million loss.
“We were having a nice fiscal turnaround at Excela before the pandemic hit,” Excela chief financial officer Thomas Albanesi said.
The health system operates Latrobe, Westmoreland and Frick hospitals in Latrobe, Greensburg and Mount Pleasant, along with a network of medical practices and Excela Square outpatient centers.
Excela began resuming some elective surgeries, hospital admissions and other procedures on May 8 after Gov. Tom Wolf’s order in March that hospitals in the state suspend non-emergency operations.
Sphon said with surgical, inpatient and outpatient volumes increasing increasing in May, the health system’s finances are beginning to stabilize. Excela did not lay off or furlough any employees during the pandemic, he noted.
“We prepared for a surge in COVID-19 patients, but we never saw the surge to the degree that some people had projected,” Sphon said.
Excela has not treated any COVID-19 patients in about a month, according to Sphon.
Since the start of the pandemic, the health system treated 242 coronavirus patients, according to chief medical officer Dr. Carol Fox. Of those patients, 56 were hospitalized, including 10 who died. Excela has administered aroung 6,200 coronavirus tests at its testing and evaluation center along Frye Farm Road in Unity Township, with test results returned within three days and just 2.7% of tests being positive.
Should COVID-19 cases requiring treatment spike locally, Fox said Excela will send all coronavirus patients to one facility for treatment rather than spreading the cases throughout the health system.