California hospitals suffer massive losses from fewer patients, major COVID-19 expenses

California hospitals lost at least $3.2 billion a month during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as they made preparations for a potential flood of patients, bought new equipment and canceled non-emergency medical procedures, according to a report from the nonprofit California Health Care Foundation.

The report, released Wednesday, highlights how dramatically the shutdown orders throughout California damaged the bottom line of hospitals as they cleared space for potential COVID-19 patients at the same time many people avoided trips to the emergency room because the number of coronavirus cases was spiking.

“I don’t think hospitals are going to recover for some time to come,” said Dr. Glenn Melnick, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California and the co-author of the report. He said much of his research comes from work he’s done on his own in the field but that he also interviewed hospital executives and studied data from a company that tracks hospital admissions nationwide.

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