In May when the federal government announced aid to hospitals handling the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic, we feared that many medical centers in South Jersey might have trouble getting help or even have to do without this crucial support.
The aid went to hospitals with 100 or more COVID patients by April 10, and since the coronavirus hotspot of North Jersey-New York City thankfully didn’t expand into South Jersey, the only local hospital qualifying was AtlantiCare Regional Health Care, for $26 million.
The rest of the region’s hospitals also had been hurt financially, not just by their need to respond to the pandemic, but by the state government ban on what it deemed nonessential procedures and services.
It wasn’t clear if there would be additional funding sometime to help the remaining hospitals.
The region’s congressman, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, had a telephone meeting with federal Health and Human Services executives in May about aid to additional hospitals. He said he found them receptive and understanding about the need.
In early June, HHS notified hospitals it intended to distribute a second round of high impact COVID-19 funds and asked them to submit data to determine their eligibility.
A couple of weeks ago, the recipients of $10 billion in second-round funding were announced and medical centers throughout South Jersey were among 65 getting a share of $604 million distributed in the state.
Shore Medical Center will receive $9.2 million, Cape Regional Medical Center $6.9 million, Inspira Medical Center Vineland $24.1 million, Salem Medical Center $5.2 million, Virtua Marlton Hospital $8.8 million, Virtual Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital (Camden) $14.4 million, and Inspira Medical Center Elmer $2.6 million. None of these hospitals had received funding in the first round.
The funding formula considered hospitals with over 161 COVID-19 admissions by June 10, or one admission per day, or that exceeded the average ratio of COVID admissions per bed. Payments in the first round of funding were also taken into account.
More than 1,000 hospitals nationwide are getting relief in the second round. The first aid totaling $12 billion was distributed to 395 hospitals.
In hindsight, maybe it was inevitable that there would be additional aid, since the need became more apparent as the U.S. epidemic progressed. Another round now seems certain, one to help hospitals elsewhere in the country that didn’t feel the brunt of the first wave of coronavirus until last month.
In looking out for his district, Van Drew may have ensured or expedited the help for South Jersey hospitals. We’re glad it came through to help them keep serving the region’s residents.