On June 8th, John Jurczyk, President of St. Joseph’s Hospital (SJH), addressed the Rotary Club of Nashua regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the Hospital and medical community. He has led a dramatic financial turnaround in the last 2 years to erase the majority of the debt and improve patient satisfaction. John spoke with a Powerpoint presentation about the impact of Covid-19 on the Hospital and medical community.  By way of history, SJH was merely 10 years old when the Spanish Flu pandemic struck in 1918.  At that time the mechanism of transmission, was poorly understood and there was no treatment or antibiotics for complications of the flu.  One third of the world was infected by the Spanish Flu.
In the US, the Spanish flu infected about 50 million and resulted in 675,000 deaths.  It attacked healthy 20-40 year-olds.  Covid-19 has infected 7 million worldwide and about 2 million in the US.  Worldwide deaths are over 400,000.  It is most lethal for those over 65 with other health issues.  Currently there is no proven treatment to cure the disease or a vaccine to prevent it. 
 
Scientists suspect the virus jumped species from bat to human similar to how the Spanish Flu jumped from bird to human.  Early projections on infection and deaths were vastly overestimated.  Fortunately, efforts at social distancing, ‘stay at home’, ICU treatment with respirators have lessened the real numbers of those stricken and those needing hospitalization.
 
Quick actions by hospitals and state governments helped distribute needed supplies to areas that needed it most.  This was quite a challenge as the supply chain for PPE and other hospital equipment fell victim to price gouging by suppliers and manufacturers.  In NH, 50% of the hospitals did not have the projected capacity needed for ICU beds.  Special efforts and overflow locations were created.  Fortunately, NH did not have the projected numbers of infected or those that needed ICU beds.  The current mortality of NH infections is about 3-4 % with 80% of the deaths being persons living in long term care facilities prior to the pandemic.  Nashua has experienced 17 deaths.  5000 patients have recovered from Covid and currently about 160 are in testing and evaluation from St. Joe’s testing of over 2000 patients.
 
To cope with the projected pandemic numbers SJH and other hospitals had a surge plan on how to increase capacity.  They worked closely with Dartmouth Hitchcock and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center to generate these plans.  The plans studied not only space needed for patients but how to re-allocate finances, staff and still maintain the standard of care for all patients. 
 
The financial impact on hospitals has been tremendous.  11 weeks of no elective care or services that are relied on for profitability.  The stock market has had fluctuations that affected reserves.  The work force has face furloughs or personnel shortages depending on the specialized care needed.  The patient population in the hospital is now sicker with no insurance or poor insurance which also negatively affects profitability 
 
There is still a shortage of quick reliable testing for Covid.  SJH has had to use a 3rd party lab to process tests as the state lab has been overwhelmed with the numbers of tests submitted. 
 
Hospitals and medical centers are now pivoting toward re-opening facilities to elective care.  They have to work harder to make the hospital safe for such procedures and satisfy government and local regulations prior to opening.  A slow expansion to resuming procedures is the likely path.  They do intend to keep the expanded tele-health services as they provide a good source for care to those who cannot get to a normal medical office. 
 
St. Joes’ currently is treating Covid patients using Remdesivir (anti-viral med) and convalescent plasma (taken from recovered Covid patients). 
 
It will be many more months or likely a year at least before things return to near normal. 
 
  A brief Q & A followed.  Joint replacement will be resuming soon.
Sponsors