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Wealthy hospitals sought donations to pay for staff equipment

Non-profit hospitals substancial profitsInova Health System, a Virginia hospital, told bondholders in 2019 that it had $3.1 billion in investments it could liquidate in three days if needed in an emergency.

And yet, Kaiser Health News reports the hospital received more than $144 million in advanced Medicare payments and $49 million in other federal coronavirus assistance.

In addition. Inova solicited and scored $4.3 million in donations for its Emergency Preparedness Fund.

“The optics of this aren’t great,” Niall Brennan, president of the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute, a research and policy organization, told Kaiser Health News. “This is one of the wealthier hospital systems in the area, and they should not be appealing for charitable donations for PPE.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced hospitals to cancel lucrative nonemergency procedures and focus on treating COVID-19. While this has affected hospitals’ total revenue, it has also raised their visibility, which has created new fundraising opportunities for them.

“Some of this is tapping into the large reservoir of goodwill that the hospital has amassed because of their efforts over the course of the pandemic,” Brennan said in the article, “and many people want to help and are not sure how, beyond staying at home.”

Federal funding has not met Inova’s needs, according to the company’s top fundraising official. Its revenue is down more than $100 million from last year, and it has spent tens of millions of dollars on gear for employees to handle COVID-19 patients.

Kaiser Health News reported that in 2019 Inova made a $1 billion profit, mostly from investments, not lucrative nonemergency procedures.

“They are taking advantage of their goodwill here,” Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management in Baltimore, told Kaiser Health News.

Do you think wealthy hospitals should be fundraising to pay for hospital equipment? Share your thoughts with Voices for Affordable Health.