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 Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is feeling the financial impact of COVID-19.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is feeling the financial impact of COVID-19.

File photo by Deb Jacques

COVID-19 takes financial toll on Henry Ford WB Hospital

‘We’re here, we’re safe and we’re ready to get back to business’

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 16, 2020


WEST BLOOMFIELD — When some think about the kind of businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they may focus on places such as restaurants and movie theaters.

One of the local institutions that isn’t immune to the problems is Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

According to hospital President Eric Wallis, “COVID has been pretty devastating to the finances of health care, especially here in southeast Michigan and across the state.

“One of the challenges here in health care is that we really make our financial success based off the elected care that we do — elective surgery, specifically,” Wallis said. “And so, when we had the huge influx, and all of our resources were going toward taking care of COVID patients, we had to stop doing those procedures and surgeries. For the Henry Ford health care system, what that has meant is we’ve lost somewhere between $700 million and $900 million worth of revenues this year. That’s not an easy one just to make up.”

Wallis said the hospital is grateful for help received from the federal government in the form of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. “We’ve, to date, as a health care system, received about $400 million worth of relief from the federal government,” he said.

Wallis estimated that around 2,600-2,700 people were furloughed over the last few months.

However, the news has begun to get better for Henry Ford West Bloomfield employees.

“We’ve been able to safely start to bring people back in for care they weren’t able to receive in the months of March, April, May,” Wallis said. “And so we’re starting to see that turn around a little bit from a business standpoint, and we’re starting to be able to bring some of those folks who were furloughed back to work.”

Despite the positive news, Wallis said it’s going to be a “long haul.”

“As a not-for-profit entity, the revenue we make doesn’t go out to shareholders or stockholders; it gets re-invested back into our business, and that money allows us to invest in how we care for this community. It allows us to expand services, buy new equipment, make sure that folks here have the latest and greatest treatments available,” Wallis said. “So when that money goes away, it has an impact (the) next several years on how much of those things can we do. And so we’re continuing to advocate for additional help from both the state and the federal governments to help us get back to being in a place where we’re not (going to) lose money as an organization this year.”

West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan said Henry Ford West Bloomfield is a “beacon for (the) greater West Bloomfield area.”

“The hospital has top-notch healthcare professionals and provides excellent services to the patients,” Kaplan said. “We are fortunate to have a high-class hospital in our community.”

According to Wallis, the projections for this year are for Henry Ford West Bloomfield to break even. That is not the financial condition he wants for the organization.

“We need to make a profit; we need to make revenue to be able to re-invest into the business,” Wallis said. “Some of the big plans and investments that are planned for this campus and for our health system are kind of being evaluated right now.”

Wallis said that, “for a couple months there, every single bed in this hospital was filled with a COVID patient,” which meant that elective surgeries were delayed.

Being able to recoup some of the revenue lost could be the key for a Henry Ford West Bloomfield financial turnaround.

“The more folks that come back in the doors, come back in (to) have that knee replacement, hip replacement or that elected procedure, we’re here, we’re safe and we’re ready to get back to business in helping them be about their best health,” Wallis said. “The sooner that people feel safe to come and receive care, the sooner we’re (going to) get back to being financially stable.”