Livingston HealthCare faces challenge as income drops during pandemic
Sam Klomhaus — Enterprise Staff Writer
Thursday, April 23, 2020
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Enterprise photos by Nate Howard

Tim Benson, a physician’s assistant at Livingston HealthCare, demonstrates the procedure for assessing a potential COVID-19 patient in the hospital’s Rapid Clinic Thursday morning.

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A sign outside Livingston HealthCare on Thursday morning praises its health care workers.

Livingston HealthCare has asked staffers to consider taking voluntary unpaid time off because of a drop in revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of hospital staff have been redeployed during the pandemic to things like day care, respiratory screening, door screening and the nurse’s hotline, LHC CEO Deb Anczak said Tuesday.

LHC CFO Kris Kester said the hospital is taking in about 50-55 percent of its normal revenue.

The hospital has received some financial assistance recently, Kester said, including a $1.2 million advance from the federal government based on Medicare usage as part of the CARES Act.

LHC has also received eight weeks worth of payroll through the paycheck protection program, which can also be used to pay the mortgage and certain utilities, Kester said, and private donations keep rolling in.

In addition, LHC will receive funds from the Small Rural Hospitals Improvement Program and has been given a LUCAS mechanical chest compression device by the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Anczak said the hospital is doing everything possible to cut costs before having to lay people off.

“The last possible resort would be cutting jobs, but we’re not there yet,” Anczak said.

Anczak said she’s very grateful there hasn’t been a surge of coronavirus cases at the hospital as of yet, but the hospital has cut back on nonessential patient visits and elective surgeries because of the coronavirus. 

She said she’s hopeful the hospital can get back to primary care/nonessential services before layoffs and furloughs are entertained.

Anczak said they’re kind of planning for Monday to start bringing some of the nonessential services back.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced Wednesday the stay-at-home order would be lifted Sunday.

Anczak said the hospital is “absolutely” worried about a spike in cases after the restrictions are relaxed, and will be cautious while bringing services back.

lHC has had one inpatient COVID-19 patient, Anczak said, who recovered and went home.

Right now it’s hard to predict when and how things will happen, Anczak said, but she’s optimistic given the recent numbers in Montana.

“Everyone is anxious to get back to doing what they signed up for, and that is taking care of our community,” Anczak said.