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Penn hospitals have sustained a massive financial loss since March due to the suspension of all non-urgent care.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

The University of Pennsylvania Health System has sustained massive financial losses since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March. 

UPHS, which operates six hospitals and ten multi-specialty centers, expects a $317 million loss in operating revenue by June 30, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. This loss does not include the $190 million in federal aid given to Penn's hospitals by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. 

The lost revenue is a result of the suspension of all non-urgent care, increased costs for coronavirus patient care such as personal protective equipment, and low payment charges for patients. 

UPHS saw a 72% decline in surgical cases in April, Penn Medicine Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Keith Kasper told University board members last month.

Assistant professor of Health Care Management Atul Gupta said he believes Penn's hospital system has the financial ability to weather the financial shocks brought on by the pandemic, and that Penn will not suffer any long-term financial impacts. Gupta said the University's hospital system must make a major effort to convince patients that it is safe for them to return to hospitals and have non-essential procedures. 

"I don't think that Penn will be affected long term, because once people feel comfortable to come back to the hospital when the [COVID-19] crisis dies down, I think it will return to its business as usual," Gupta said. 

In the last week of May, surgery volumes in UPHS have risen to 65% of normal volume, the Inquirer reported. Outpatient visits and hospital admissions are also returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Gupta added that the large federal stimulus payment given to Penn's hospital system has helped the University avoid further financial impacts.  

The Penn-affiliated Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also received $42.9 million in federal aid to mitigate its decrease in patient volume and revenue, the Inquirer reported, but is still planning on a $3.4 billion expenditure for future expansion projects.

Other hospitals in the region have suffered similar financial impacts from the pandemic. Thomas Jefferson University, which housed COVID-19 patients at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and local Abington Hospital, has incurred a loss of $95 million, the Inquirer reported.

After working under a $12.4 million operating loss, the Temple University Health System reported an operating profit of $18.7 million in April, after receiving millions in federal aid, the Inquirer reported. 

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