Our other looming health-care disaster

Yesterday, the CEO of Hillsdale Hospital, a small-town hospital in southern Michigan, penned a letter to Whitmer laying out the dire situation: If elective surgeries were not allowed to resume, many of the state’s rural hospitals would likely be forced to shut down permanently within just a few months.

That CEO, JJ Hodshire, told The Dispatch that the loss of elective surgeries was starving his hospital of one of the few profitable services on an already tight balance sheet. As a small hospital, Hillsdale Hospital lacks substantial bargaining power and thus is largely at the mercy of the procedure rates stipulated by insurance providers even in good times. This means it relies on elective procedures like joint replacements to stay in the black.

“We operate on a shoestring budget,” he said. “We have struggled like the rest of rural American health care. We’ve had some losses year after year, but we understand the importance as a community need, as a not-for-profit hospital, that we need to engage in this, because we know that if there’s no local hospital, people die. When your hospitals close, access to care is now limited to a 30, 40, 50 minute drive. And when you’re talking about heart attacks, you’re talking about strokes, every minute counts.”