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Hospital steers steady course through COVID storm

Ups and downs of turbulent year are detailed in annual report

Posted 4/7/21

COOK- In a year turned topsy-turvy by the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals faced new and difficult challenges, that for some threatened their very existence.But when all was said and done with 2020, …

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Hospital steers steady course through COVID storm

Ups and downs of turbulent year are detailed in annual report

Posted

COOK- In a year turned topsy-turvy by the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals faced new and difficult challenges, that for some threatened their very existence.
But when all was said and done with 2020, Cook Hospital weathered the storm intact.
It’s an accomplishment rightly measured against a report from Becker’s Hospital Review in March that 2020 was “a record year for rural hospital closures.” Twenty rural hospitals closed last year, one more than the 19 that closed in 2019. The downward impact on patient numbers and services provided exerted by the pandemic was a major contributor to last year’s failures.
Cook Hospital certainly felt the pinch, as detailed in its 2020 annual report. The hospital’s operating revenue in 2020, $13,939,696, declined by
nearly $193,000 compared to 2019.
“The overall contributor to the loss compared to 2019 was COVID,” said hospital CEO Teresa Debevec. “We put many services on hold when it first started. Our outpatient surgeries, colonoscopy and endoscopy, had to be put on hold, rehab services took only those patients who couldn’t do a home exercise program, and many other services in our outpatient area (were curtailed).”
As services decreased, expenses also dropped. Operational expenses of $15,112,688 were $65,346 lower last year than in 2019, making the net loss from hospital operations $1,172,992. That amount was $127,610 more than in 2019.
However, the hospital also received significant non-operating revenue from the hospital levy, grants and donations, including additional COVID relief funds last year, and as in past years those funds kept the hospital operating in the black. Non-operating revenue for 2020 was $1,932,642, an increase of $1153,209 from 2019. Including this revenue in the overall budget picture, Cook Hospital finished the year on the positive side of the ledger by $25,599, a far slimmer margin than the nearly $760,000 of net income generated in 2019.
Debevec noted that the financial results are preliminary, pending completion of an audit this month. Tracking allocation of COVID funding has been challenging, she said.
“The COVID funds have been quite the experience,” she said. “They go back and forth on when we have to claim that money and how. It won’t affect the income from operations. The grant funds are added in the non-operating revenue.”
Two local groups dedicated to supporting the hospital financially made significant gifts in 2020. The W.C. Heiam Medical Foundation donated $37,858, and also gave each employee a $50 gift card to be used at local businesses in appreciation for their hard work during the pandemic. The Cook Area Healthcare Auxiliary donated $70,000 generated from the operation of its thrift shop.
While services were reduced for a good portion of the year, there was still plenty of activity at the hospital, including:
• 2,207 emergency room visits
• 6,387 radiology procedures
• 4,416 rehab treatments
• 127,515 laboratory procedures
• 316 outpatient services
• 224 adult day care services
• 9,926 resident days
• $127,102 of charity care provided.
While the year was filled with the ongoing challenges of adapting to the pandemic, the hospital was able to resume most of the services it had suspended by September, and to restart adult day services by the end of the year. The hospital discontinued sleep studies and ENT services but entered into a contract with Fairview Range to provide ultrasound services. A new 3D mammography unit was also purchased.
The hospital also remained engaged with the greater healthcare community, donating $9,362 for first responder training and equipment to units within the hospital district.
The Minnesota Department of Health awarded two specialized designations to the hospital in 2020, one as an acute stroke ready hospital and the other as a Level 4 trauma center. In recognition of their service to diabetics and their families, the hospital received a Dream Catcher Award presented by the Cook Lions Club and the Diabetes Foundation.
Throughout the year, Cook Hospital & Care Center employed 129 full, part-time and casual staff to deliver its services, collectively representing a commitment of over $7.9 million to payroll and benefits, with a large portion of that reinvested in the local economy.
“The dedication, support, and commitment our employees and medical staff have continued to provide is outstanding,” Debevec said. “Our staff has been committed to keeping up with the ever-changing regulations and ensuring the safety of our residents and patients during these difficult times. There are not enough words to express the sincere appreciation I have for our team.”
The complete annual report can be viewed online at https://www.cookhospital.org/about/annual-report.

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