VIRGINIA, USA — As areas around the DMV continue to make progress on reopening, hospitals could face a long road ahead as restrictions remain in place at many medical facilities.
Due to the need to treat coronavirus patients, hospitals in both Maryland and Virginia had to cancel elective surgeries for several weeks.
With the number of cancellations and precautions needing to be taken to fight the pandemic, medical facilities have been hit hard by financial issues.
On Monday, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) estimated that hospitals around the state could see a combined loss of around $3.6 billion this year.
In total, the group added that hospitals in Virginia are seeing collective net revenue losses of around $25 million per day.
Aside from the impact of fighting coronavirus, capacity at hospitals in Virginia remains around 50% compared to where it was the same time last year.
VHHA spokesman Julian Walker said that the challenges presented by the pandemic could take months to get through.
"Freeing up those beds and canceling those non-emergency procedures meant a significant loss of revenue," he said. "Now, many people are putting off necessary care.”
Despite the ban on elective surgeries being lifted, medical facilities still face plenty of restrictions.
Family visitations are still limited and each facility has strict cleaning guidelines.
While reopening has brought more freedom for restaurants and other businesses, Walker said it was important for hospitals to keep maintaining safe environments.
"We know that this is a highly transmissible illness and so the goal of all the steps that have been taken was social distancing and people staying at home," he said. "If too many people get ill all at once, you could lead to a situation where the capacity of the health care system to deliver that treatment is overwhelmed.”
Momease, a birth coaching team based in Alexandria, has seen the impact of the restrictions firsthand.
While staff normally accompany expectant mothers to the hospital to offer guidance and support, limitations on visitations have led to the team mainly offering virtual sessions now.
"Couples can only have one person with them in labor. It’s whoever they choose but they can’t have two," said instructor Carolyn Alexander. "I’ve been a doula for over 10 years and I’ve never been told I can’t come into a hospital and support my clients.”
As a result of the restrictions, Alexander told WUSA that couples have been dealing with even more stress over pregnancy.
"All the resources that you used to have, personal resources one-on-one, are not there," she said. "The main fear being is there a possibility when I get there that I might catch the coronavirus?"
Moving forward, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association said reopening changes for medical facilities will rely on the data coming back on coronavirus cases.
"It really is going to be dependent on the local conditions, the capabilities of the facilities," Walker said. "We have members across the Commonwealth. Each member serves a different community with its own health characteristics and its own unique populations and therefore their own unique health circumstances.”