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Hospitals Ask Gov. Wolf For Half PA's $4 Billion Stimulus

Keith Srakocic
Allegheny Health Network is a member of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, which is lobbying for state help to make up shortfalls after Gov. Tom Wolf asked all facilities to temporarily stop offering elective procedures.


  On today's program: Hospitals want more money from the state after taking big financial hits during the coronavirus; Point Park University launches a new play reading series; and some Pennsylvania daycares are reopening amid major challenges.

Hospitals could face uncertain future without aid
(00:00 — 7:52)

Hospitals across the commonwealth are lobbying the Wolf administration and the legislature to give them about half of the nearly $4 billion in funds the state is receiving from the federal stimulus package.

“We’re just asking that health care be at the front of our priorities,” says Andy Carter, president and CEO of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, which advocates for 240 hospitals and systems including UPMC and Allegheny Health Network.

Carter says that large and small hospitals and health systems are collectively facing “staggering challenges” from the costs of battling the pandemic.

In March, the Wolf administration directed hospitals to suspend scheduled operations. According to Carter, those surgeries, diagnostic procedures and out-patients visits can account for 50 to 80 percent of hospitals’ margins, “and when you lose all of those, we’ll call them more profitable services, the ability to continue serving the community broadly with emergency care, behavioral health services and others are significantly compromised.”

According to Carter, closing is a possibility for hospitals that were already operating in the red, while others could face service reductions.

 “There is no way to resume normal operations in light of these significant losses,” he says.

Hospitals have been collaborating to get personal protective equipment to the facilities that need it the most, he says, and he believes that cooperation will continue after the crisis.  

“Within individual markets, hospitals will compete, and that’s good for patients, while in the background, collaborative efforts to be ready for the next pandemic or even a resurgence of COVID-19 take place.”

Pandemic serves as inspiration for Point Park University playwrights
(7:54 — 13:23)

Though theaters and other entertainment venues remain dark because of the shutdown, Point Park’s Pittsburgh Playhouse is already planning a new pandemic-inspired play reading series for their upcoming season. 

Artistic director and dean of the school’s Conservatory of Performing Arts Steven Breese says that the pandemic offers a rare opportunity for playwrights “to bring a new play into being that might surround or use the pandemic and the global crisis as a jumping off point—a springboard, if you will—for a new idea and a new way to interpret the world or to reflect the way human nature is responding to this crisis.”

Submissions will be accepted between June 1 and July 1. Find more information here

Some daycares set to reopen with limited capacities
(13:30 — 18:00) 

Child care centers in the 24 northwestern counties that have moved into phase yellow of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan can now operate at limited capacity. Others are still in the red regions of the state, including Allegheny County. 

90.5 WESA’s Sarah Schneider reports on the challenges that come with running a child care business during a pandemic. 

90.5 WESA’s Julia Zenkevich contributed to this report. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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