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Saint Francis Executives List Millions In Additional Costs From COVID-19 Pandemic

Leaders with Saint Francis health system said Monday the hospital has racked up millions of dollars in increased costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Financial Officer Deborah Dage said a significant portion of that is from not billing patients for care related to the illness.

"Patients that come to Saint Francis and are treated for COVID — regardless of whether it's inpatient, emergency, if it's a Remdesivir infusion — whatever their insurance does not cover, Saint Francis absorbs the remainder of that balance. We are not sending a statement to the patient to collect for that balance," Dage said.

According to the hospital’s latest figures, 134 patients have been there at least 10 days, while 60 have been there more than a month.

Saint Francis is also reporting costs including $4 million spent in 2020 paying employees who couldn’t work because of COVID; $9.5 million for COVID testing supplies, a number they expect to be higher in 2021; and more than $7 million for pay incentives to retain employees and contract labor to boost staffing.

Dage said in 2020, the hospital did not have to pay for vaccine serum or certain treatments.

"But should COVID continue as it has the last few months, Saint Francis estimates we will pay in excess of $20 million to pay for the drugs and therapeutic medications necessary to treat the patients, Primarily, this is the cost of remdesivir," Dage said.

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that appears to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization for high-risk patients, though its benefit for already hospitalized patients has not been proven.

Dage said federal relief funding from the CARES Act has covered some but not all of their increased costs, and Medicaid expansion has helped reduce the number of uninsured patients they see.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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