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Indiana hospitals suffer toughest financial year since pre-pandemic

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Posted at 7:01 PM, Feb 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-01 20:00:50-05

INDIANA— It's a growing threat to the healthcare system and it could impact how you receive treatment.

Hospitals across the state faced major financial hardships in 2022.

"Hospitals in Indiana experienced profound financial toll, with very little relief in sight," Erik Swanson, Senior Vice President of Data and Analytics, said.

Brian Tabor, the President of the Indiana Hospital Association, said the financial state is a real threat to healthcare and access across the state.

“There are challenges in access in the services that hospitals provide. It's a very uncomfortable situation, but when you have to make decisions in a difficult financial environment, what we worry about are closing sites of care,” Brian Tabor said.

Officials in the industry took time Wednesday to share just how big of a threat Hoosiers are facing.

"2022 ended up being the worst year for hospital finances since the beginning of the pandemic," Swanson said.

Hospital officials blame the growing number of expenses and a rise in costs for pretty much everything from supplies to employees’ salaries growing at a much larger rate than revenue.

The Indiana Hospital Association says labor, medical supplies, drugs and other services rose $3.2 billion during this time due to inflation and other external factors, which is outpacing revenue.

The median hospital operating margin for the state of Indiana was at or below the national median each year, the report found.

"There are no quick solutions for us," Carol Dozier, IHA Board Chairwoman, said.

Total operating income for Indiana hospitals fell $1.2 billion below pre-pandemic levels.

What does this mean for Hoosiers?

Hospital officials say they do worry they will have to close care facilities because they simply don’t have the money to keep them open.

"Hospitals, Indiana hospitals are not going to compromise on quality. Every patient is our responsibility and privilege to take care of 24 hours a day 7 days a week," Tabor said.

It's a concern for some Hoosiers.

"I just think of all the people that could really use that care and aren't going to be able to get that care and it really just cuts deep,” Indianapolis resident Mason Loughman told WRTV.

Just last year, Ascension St. Vincent closed 11 immediate care centers, their Bedford Hospital and nine practice locations across Bedford and Mitchell.

The network announced late last month that 11 more care facilities will close within 90 days.

They cited a toll from the pandemic.

"I know that the people who are in the system are doing their best but do I think that the whole[system] needs a rehaul, absolutely,” Indianapolis resident Shelbi Williams said.

Hospital officials also discussed issues when it comes to staffing hospitals.

They cite a "mass exodus" of healthcare professionals. Many healthcare facilities are trying to combat the issue by partnering with local colleges to get students into their hospitals.

Officials say there is no quick solution to the issues the hospital systems are facing.