Small, rural hospitals get money due to COVID-related costs

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Some of Alabama’s smallest hospitals could get a boost because of their efforts to treat people sick from coronavirus.

More than $10 million is now available for rural hospitals to pay for costs related to coronavirus, through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program.

“It can be used for testing. It can be used for vaccination efforts. It can be used for mitigation,” said Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association.

“So it’s either to reimburse hospitals for expenses that they already had or to reimburse hospitals for expenses they will have through 2022,” he continued.

Williamson said 40 hospitals in the state are eligible for assistance. Small, rural hospitals are those with less than 50 beds. Williamson described COVID-19 as a big, unexpected expense for them.

“Some of these hospitals could get costs that could tilt the balance toward them being unable to survive,” he continued.

He added that, rural hospitals, even with fewer beds than urban hospitals, proved their worth; helping take some of the stress off bigger hospitals by accepting and admitting patients large hospitals couldn’t because they were caring for COVID-19 positive patients.

“While those dollars are absolutely welcomed and they are desperately needed by our rural hospitals, they are not free dollars. If the hospital doesn’t have the expenses to justify the receipt of funds, they won’t receive funds.”

No hospitals in Alabama closed during the pandemic.

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