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May 27, 2020

YNHH operating loss could reach $500 million

Thomas Balcezak, MD, chief clinical officer for Yale New Haven Health and Yale Medicine.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a negative financial impact on the Yale New Haven Health system, officials said Wednesday. 

Marna P. Borgstrom, CEO of Yale New Haven Health, said the pandemic’s implications for the system’s budget are continuing to evolve.

In mid-May, Borgstrom estimated there would be a $300 million to $350 million swing in the system’s budget projections, with a $55 million loss. During a Wednesday video press conference with members of the state’s media, Borgstrom said this swing could be more in the range of $750 million.  

“We may have as much as a $500 million operating loss without expense mitigation,” Borgstrom said. 

Borgstrom said the health system has received roughly $200 million in federal funds, some in the form of loans and some for deficit mitigation.

“Do I hope we get more? Absolutely,” Borgstrom said. “How much will we get? I don’t know.”

System management has indicated that non-COVID patients have been avoiding hospitals in general across the country due to fear about contracting the virus. That avoidance and postponements of procedures has meant lost revenue. 

YNHH suspended or reduced elective surgeries at its facilities on March 19. While the hospital has continued to do emergency surgeries all along, it announced earlier in May that it is phasing in more surgeries, starting with the most urgent.

Thomas Balcezak, MD, chief clinical officer for Yale New Haven Health and Yale Medicine, said Wednesday the system is currently operating at about 30 percent volume of pre-COVID-19 elective procedures.  

In comparison, a couple of weeks ago, Borgstrom reported the system’s hospitals had been performing about 20 percent of its typical number of surgeries.

“We are getting there,” Balcezak said. “We have seen a big pick-up in patients who are non-COVID.”

Balcezak urged people who need care to come in and get it. The health system is taking various steps to keep people safe, such as keeping COVID patients in separate areas, wearing personal protection equipment, and performing routine testing of staff, he said.

Fewer COVID patients 

According to Borgstrom, the population of patients in the health system with COVID continues to decline. 

The health system includes not only Yale New Haven Hospital but Bridgeport and Greenwich Hospitals, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London and Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island.

Yale New Haven Hospital alone had 182 COVID patients as of Wednesday, down from an April peak of 472, she said. 

“The patients we are caring for are still very sick, but there are fewer of them,” Borgstrom said.

Gov. Ned Lamont reported Tuesday that there were 694 COVID patients hospitalized statewide. The state has had 41,303 positive cases and 3,769 deaths. 

Balcezak said social distancing and mask-wearing practices are working.

“The temptation to have a cookout and get together with family and friends is strong, but we are not yet through this, and we need to remain vigilant,” Balcezak said. 

The health system is continuing to ramp up testing, and its goal is to achieve 10,000 daily tests by the end of June. 

“As we are on a downhill slope, and as we get to manageable numbers, we need to be more aggressive about testing,” Balcezak said. “The only way we will feel completely safe is when there is a vaccine with long-lasting immunity.”

“Short of that, we need frequent testing, and isolating people until they are negative,” Balcezak said. 

Primary-care project moves forward

Meanwhile, hospital officials said they are going ahead with plans for moving primary-care services to Sargent Drive. 

The state Office of Health Strategy approved YNHH’s certificate of need application for this project in August 2019.

Vin Petrini, senior vice president of public affairs for Yale New Haven Health, said construction related to this project is happening this summer.

“We are excited to move that forward,” Petrini said. 

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at

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