Beaumont Health: Finances still strained by COVID-19 outbreak

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Beaumont Health is still struggling financially from the COVID-19 outbreak that hit Metro Detroit in mid-March and expects the strain to continue through the rest of the year, the health system said Thursday.

Beaumont treated more coronavirus patients than any Southeast Michigan health system, it said in a press release, hurting its non-coronavirus patient volumes, operating income and non-operating income through the second quarter of this year. 

Beaumont Hospital-Wayne

As of June 30, Beaumont’s net loss was $146.7 million, a decrease of $355.6 million over the same period in 2019. Operating revenues of $2.1 billion were a $220.4 million decrease over the $2.32 billion reported a year ago.

“The Beaumont team remains focused on providing high-quality care as demonstrated by our recent designation of 19 national rankings by US News and World Report," Beaumont Health Chief Financial Officer John Kerndl said in a statement.

"Surgeries, ER visits and diagnostic services have begun to recover, but not back to pre-COVID-19 levels.”

Beaumont signed a non-binding letter of intent in mid-June to join with not-for-profit Advocate Aurora Health, based in Downer's Grove, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Some Beaumont physicians are circulating a petition of no-confidence aimed at hospital leadership over the proposed merger. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said last week she is reviewing the proposed merger deal, which would create a 28-hospital system spanning three states. 

System leaders argue the merger would lead to an investment of $100 million in technology among the three health systems, and other benefits to Metro Detroit patients.

The eight-hospital health system in late April laid off about 2,475 employees and permanently eliminated about 450 positions. Beaumont said it was  "hemorrhaging" cash because of dried up surgical revenue due to canceled elective procedures, decreased non-COVID-19 visits to the hospitals and increased costs for personal protection equipment. 

About 60% of those employees have since been called back to work, according to the Southfield-based health system. Federal COVID-19 funds the health system received did not depend on the employee call-backs, Beaumont Health officials said. 

Beaumont is continuing to evaluate "all expenses, including staffing levels, and identifying ways to align costs and current volume levels," the nonprofit system said Thursday.

The health system is also pursuing all available state and federal COVID-19 assistance, and deferring non-essential or non-coronavirus-related capital expenditures, the press release said. 

Beaumont’s financial indicators remain strong, according to the press release, due primarily to cash increases related to Medicare advanced payments of $504 million, a $100 million lien of credit, CARES Act payments and deferred payroll taxes in the second quarter.

Twitter: @kbouffardDN