Care Health

Prioritize Healthy life

Hospitals facing challenges from supply chain, nursing slump

Hospitals facing challenges from supply chain, nursing slump

Supply chain issues, labor costs and shortages are affecting hospitals of all size in the Abilene area, officials with Hendrick Health say.

And while there is hope for stabilization, work is especially required in nursing education and recruitment to deal with ongoing issues of hiring and retention, while hospitals will continue to deal with pandemic-related issues.

“Our costs have gone in the supplies that we have to buy for our patients and the labor that we have to pay for to take care of those patients has gone up,” said Susan Greenwood, chief nursing officer for Hendrick Health System. “We cannot pass those charges on to patients, we are subject to the prices payors set, whether that is Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance companies.”

Hendrick’s response came after a recent story by the USA TODAY network that half of Texas hospitals are operating in the red and that nearly one in 10 is at risk of closing due to COVID-19 fallout. The report stated the situation for rural hospitals in the state is more dire – a Texas Hospital Association officials stated that 26% of hospitals in rural areas are in danger of closing.

Small size matters when costs matter

The approve-or-deny approach is difficult even at a larger hospital system such as Hendrick, Greenwood said, but the system, which includes facilities in Brownwood, has a large enough patient census − and a history of financial stability − that it has been able to weather recent challenges such as the pandemic.

Hospitals facing challenges from supply chain, nursing slump

But by comparison, smaller hospitals may have a patient census, a measure of “patients in beds,” of six, 10 or 15, compared to a hospital system like Hendrick that might have 300, she said.

“So you can see that their costs have gone up the same as ours, or maybe even higher, because they don’t have the same purchasing power,” Greenwood said. “So, when you can’t buy in bulk, you don’t get the best prices. Their costs have gone up, the cost of labor has gone up. But they have very few patients with which to make up that ground.”