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2020 End of Year Letter

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital Logo

December 30, 2020

 

To Our CMH Supporters,

 

Traditionally, during the last quarter of the calendar year, I present an annual update on Community Memorial Hospital at one or more public town hall events.  As with most things this year, COVID-19 has made those in-person meetings impossible.  Still I wanted to share with you what has occurred at your community hospital this past year.  I apologize for the length of the letter, but CY 2020 has been active to say the least.

 

CMH has continued to treat patients on a non-stop basis since February and is experiencing a 3rd surge since. We participated in clinical trials for the treatment of this virus and will continue to do so as new treatment therapies are developed. We have expanded our physical space as part of our preparatory plans for a significant surge in COVID patient volume after the holidays. 

 

We are expanding our testing capability and making preparations to receive the vaccine once it is available.  I realize the restrictions we have placed on patient visitation have proven to be a burden on patients and families; however, these extreme measures are necessary to protect all of our patients and our staff so we stand ready for anyone who may need our services.  I cannot adequately express my pride in the CMH teams in our acute, long-term care, home health and ambulatory divisions that have shown their resilience, unwavering commitment and bravery in dealing with this continuing battle.  Likewise, I want to thank the many members of the community who have shown phenomenal support through many acts of kindness for our staff.  I encourage everyone to adhere to the preventative measures of masking, physical distancing and hand washing.  They have proven to be the most effective deterrent during this pandemic. 

 

Despite the impact of COVID, CMH has had a year of growth.  We have continued to add new members to our medical staff.  Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1st, we have added nine talented physicians to our team:  Drs. Darrell Brown and Katie Vemireddy (OB/GYN), Mark Carreras and Bryan Mosora (Emergency Medicine), Saroj Kandel and Bikram Saini (Hospitalists), John Pearson (Urology), Madana Vallem, Khalid Hasan and Sreenivasulu Metikala (Orthopedics), and Charles Nwaokocha (Internal Medicine) as well as nurse practitioners Sarah Ashworth at The Hundley Center and Dion Tomer in the Emergency Department.  We also have commitments for even more additions to the team by July of 2021:  Drs. Anaiza Anees (Child & Adolescent Psychiatry), Thomas Alukai and Soney Basnyat (Hospitalists) and Obed Adarkwah (Pulmonary/Critical Care).  To accommodate these providers, we completed the build out of the 2nd floor of the C.A.R.E. Building and we will be reopening our Ferrell Street office to accommodate the new psychiatry/behavioral health practice.  Recruitment efforts for additional specialists to serve the needs of this area, with several promising candidates, are in various stages of the process.  VCU Health’s commitment to meeting the health care needs of this region remains unchanged. 

 

As you can imagine, COVID had a significant financial impact on CMH operations when we were required to close our outpatient services during the first several months of the pandemic outbreak.  Likewise, the previously mentioned efforts to expand capacity, supplies and staff weighed heavily on performance.  The revenues received from the federal government’s CARES Act funds did provide significant relief; however, they did not cover the lost revenue from the growth that CMH was experiencing prior to the pandemic.  In short, CMH ended FY 2020 with an operating loss of $1.9 million which, despite the challenges of COVID, was a significant improvement over the $12.6 million loss in FY 19.  (It should be noted that 2019 was a year of significant investment in new clinics for the region, which were beginning to show major growth in our 2020 fiscal year.)

 

Our efforts to expand telemedicine services were interrupted by the pandemic; however, we were able to leverage the equipment that we received from our USDA grant to provide telemedicine visits into patients’ homes when we restricted visits to our physician practices due to COVID.  We have since regained momentum with our efforts to expand primary care and physician specialist availability to off-site locations.  We are currently offering this service to The Hundley Center nursing home and soon will be offering specialist consults via telemedicine in Clarksville and Chase City.  This program shows great promise for expansion into other parts of our service area in 2021.

 

Thanks to the many programs we have added, and are continuing to develop, CMH is experiencing patient volume growth.  We have seen our market share growing not only in our primary service area, but in markets more distant as well.  All of the services offered at CMH are integrated with VCU Medical Center and all of its clinics so we can offer a full array of care to our patients.  Patients can receive everything from primary and preventative care up to cutting edge treatments and clinical trials that are part of leading edge research from the many programs offered by VCU Health.

 

I realize this letter is a bit long, but given the challenges, and frankly dangers of gathering in large groups, I want our supporters to know just some of the activities underway at your community hospital.  I want to end by wishing you and your families a very Happy New Year.  With several new very effective COVID vaccines, 2021 is already looking brighter than 2020!

 

Sincerely,

                                     

W. Scott Burnette

Chief Executive Officer