Rural Hospital CEO: Biggest Coronavirus Outbreak Concern Is Having Enough Healthy Personnel

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Maria Ryan, CEO of Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, New Hampshire, told Breitbart News that her biggest concern during the coronavirus outbreak is loss of staff due to actual or suspected coronavirus infection. She joined Tuesday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Ed Martin to discuss the state of affairs at her rural hospital in addressing the viral spread.

Mansour asked, “Bottom line, do you feel prepared? Do you have everything that you need? Do you need anything else from the federal government that you’re not getting?”

Ryan shared her fear of temporarily losing staff to real or suspected coronavirus infection during a period of increased demand on her hospital’s services.

“I don’t feel that way, like I need anything more except workforce, right?” replied Ryan. “If I get a sick workforce, then like any hospital, especially in a rural area, that’s what’s going to strap me, if the workforce starts to get sick.”

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“We’re already in a workforce shortage,” added Ryan. “We have one of the lowest unemployment rates. We border Vermont, [which] has an even lower unemployment rate. We don’t have enough people for the jobs, so we’re all strapped for healthcare personnel to begin with.”

Ryan explained, “If we start getting sick with people, or even if they have a common cold, but we suspect [or are] concerned they may have coronavirus, they have to go home for 14 days. So that is a valid concern of all of [ours], our workforce.” 

Ryan’s hospital serves 26 towns in New Hampshire and Vermont. The towns “are really economically depressed, and it’s an older population,” Ryan said.

Ryan noted the impact of the conventional flu — influenza A and B viruses, primarily — across America during the 2019-2020 flu season, beginning October 1.

“In the United States, it’s considered a moderate season,” said Ryan of the most recent flu season. “We’ve had about 36 million flu illnesses [and] 370,000 hospitalizations throughout the United States, and 22,000 deaths — unfortunately, 144 were children — and this is not even done, yet. We’re still in high flu season, and this is considered moderate. A high season, [such as ] in 2017 to 2018, we’ve had 79,000 deaths.”

The swine flu outbreak of 2009 and 2010 provided hospitals with experience in dealing with pandemics, remarked Ryan, praising President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ryan recalled, “The 2009 pandemic with the swine flu [was] another novel virus. It was an H1N1 family, but a new virus we hadn’t studied, yet, and we hadn’t seen. That was really devastating. A couple of things happened in 2009 that made me prepare for today. One, there was a delayed response in the national emergency [declaration]. I’m not blaming anybody. It was new. We have certainly learned from that time.”

Ryan continued, “Look at how quickly President Trump had declared a national emergency and that freed up to do an awful lot of stuff, and waive some of the burdensome regulations so we can take care of patients, and he also — which was very bold — he stopped travel in from China and then subsequently from Europe which helped slow the transmission.”

“But in 2009, it was really devastating how much the [swine] flue hit the United States,” Ryan added, “We learned something about that because it was so devastating, and we had so many deaths related to it. We had, globally, anywhere from 151,000 people up to 575,000 people, and it hit children and young adults, which was very different than the typical flu season.”

About 60 million Americans were infected with swine flu, remembered Ryan, noting that about 12,000 American died of the virus.

The economic impact of coronavirus-related closures of businesses worried Ryan.

“Here’s my fear with hospitals — I’m not actually afraid that we are not prepared to handle really critically ill people, I’m not even afraid of that — I’m afraid that economically, some of us are going to die,” Ryan said. “We have all these edicts now, [such as] don’t have people come to your clinics unless they’re really critically ill, but if it’s just for a physical, don’t have them come in, [and] elective surgeries are all being canceled.”

Ryan asked, “Economically, how are we going to survive? We’re the economic engine for rural America. Hospitals employ more people and we contribute to the economics of really depressed areas, and I employ 300 people. Every year, I’ve been able to create jobs, and now I’m walking through my hospital — it’s a ghost town — but we have to comply with all the recommendations or guidelines, because God forbid somebody does get sick — people get sick all the time and they have flues, but people would say, ‘Oh, you didn’t follow the guidelines.'”

“So that’s what I worry about,” concluded Ryan.

Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific.

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