A rural Michigan hospital is petitioning Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to relax emergency rules banning elective surgeries before it is forced to close from lack of funds.
Hillsdale Hospital Vice President and COO Jeremiah Hodshire published an open letter to Whitmer on Tuesday, warning the governor that rural hospitals like Hillsdale may shut down soon if not allowed to support themselves through conducting elective surgeries. Whitmer has said she will reconsider Michigan’s ban on certain medical procedures on Thursday.
“If there is one thing that we need now more than ever, it’s patients using our services instead of living in fear of leaving their homes while their health needs are left unmet,” Hodshire said.
Whitmer banned elective surgeries throughout Michigan on March 20. The ban is set to last for the duration of the state of emergency, which times out at the end of the day on Thursday unless the legislature approves the governor’s request for an extension. Whitmer has suggested that she may try to extend the emergency order anyway.
“Blanket restrictions in your executive orders have placed our small, rural hospital in the same standing as those in large, highly-populated areas like Detroit, busy with 75 percent of the state’s COVID-19 patients,” Hodshire said. “The most devastating order required closure of every hospital operating room to elective procedures, even while 22 Michigan counties have less than ten confirmed COVID-19 cases.”
Elective surgeries account for 20% of Hillsdale Hospital’s net income, according to the COO. The hospital is on track for a $10 million budget shortfall because of the ban on elective surgeries and significant losses in the stock market because of the coronavirus and severe restrictions on business. Hillsdale Hospital has received roughly $1 million so far in aid from the federal government’s coronavirus relief efforts.
Hodshire called on Whitmer to let bans and regulations on healthcare be made at the local level as the coronavirus has hit the rural areas of Michigan far differently than the urban areas of Detroit.
“Executive orders based on science are important and we unequivocally support them. But those that go beyond are reckless and senseless, crippling already fragile rural economies for the sake of managing highly-populated areas,” Hodshire said. “Without opening up hospitals to appropriately perform elective surgeries within the next week, and better government support to help make up for lost revenue, hospitals like ours (and, I would submit, others throughout Michigan) will be forced to close their doors — forever.”
Whitmer’s heavy-handed regulations have sparked outrage across Michigan as hundreds of people have gathered in the state’s capital to protest and demand she lift the stay-at-home order. The latest round of protests came on Thursday as the emergency order was set to expire. Many protesters, some carrying firearms, entered the state capitol building after the weather turned sour.
“Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today,” state Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D) said on Twitter.
Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg pic.twitter.com/voOZpPYWOs
— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) April 30, 2020
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