Hospitals and healthcare clinics in rural parts of Texas are ill-equipped to handle any COVID-19 outbreaks that may occur as the state begins to reopen on Friday, CBS reports.
Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller, who oversees the state's rural healthcare system, told Sharyn Alfonsi on "60 Minutes" that 60 of the 163 rural facilities he helps keep open have less than 30 days of cash on hand.
He said one healthcare provider already had to file for bankruptcy this week and others are on the brink of closing.
The cancellation of elective procedures to prepare for any outbreak put hospitals at more of a financial loss than they were already facing, he said.
"It pushed them over the edge," Miller said. "I'm afraid — this pandemic … we're going … to continue to lose healthcare providers in rural Texas and across the nation.”
Dr. Leighann Falcon, who runs a clinic and works at Memorial Medical Center in Calhoun County, told CBS she's skipping her own salary to pay staff and cover the extra costs of treating every patient as a potential COVID-19 case.
"We lead the nation in a lot of things and including uninsured," Falcon said. "Our little hospital down the street on any given year can provide up to $6 million in uncompensated care … It's hard to run a business when you're giving away $6 million a year.”
She said without financial help, rural hospitals and clinics will close.
"Without assistance, they won't survive," she said. "If our hospital were to close, it would devastate our community. We're already short physicians. We're short for healthcare. If you have an emergency, and the nearest emergency room is over 35 miles away, that's not a good thing."
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