Barton’s focus remains on patients, not finances

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Businesses across South Lake Tahoe have had to change the way they operate due to the coronavirus, and Barton Health is no different.

Barton is known in the region for its orthopedic services, but it has had to make adjustments to keep residents safe.

“As an active, mountain community, we understand that orthopedics continues to be one of core services needed by our community and visitors,” said Mindi Befu, Director of Public Relations for Barton Health. “While Barton currently has essential orthopedic and rehabilitation services available, the integrated and comprehensive orthopedic model that has successfully brought patients back to an active lifestyle through the programs offered at the center will again be offered to the community.”

Befu continued to say that Barton will follow state and CDC guidelines to safely phase in services.

Barton has worked quickly to adjust to a new normal, including changing services in order to help residents who contracted COVID-19, while still helping patients with non-respiratory issues.

“Through this first phase of the pandemic, Barton has continued to see patients and provide care through many new pathways including virtual visits and safe entry/exit while preparing for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients,” Befu said. “Based on state guidelines to safely phase in reopening of the community, plans are underway to bring back elective services and meet the needs of patients. These plans will take into account medical urgency while ensuring low risk of spreading COVID-19 following CDC guidelines.”

Since Barton is a private hospital, like all businesses, financial stability is key to long-term survival.

Financial stability for rural hospitals has long been a problem across the country, and economic crises only exacerbate the problem. According to data gathered by the University of North Carolina, 170 rural hospitals have closed since 2005 — 10 of which occurred already this year.

Marshall Medical Center in Placerville Thursday announced the permanent closure of its 30-year old transitional care unit that will displace 36 employees. They will be given priority placement to open positions within Marshall, a release said.

“The financial impact COVID-19 is having on all businesses cannot be understated,” Befu said. “Barton is financially sound and will continue to provide needed healthcare services to our community during the current crisis and into the future.

“Barton is currently modeling the financial impact of COVID-19, and like all businesses, will make adjustments as necessary to ensure financial viability that will not compromise needed medical care for our community,” Befu added. “We have and always will provide care to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe with an emphasis on health and well-being.”

Befu said Barton is confident there will be federal and state support for hospitals during the financial crisis, although state and federal subsidized funding have not been finalized.

Despite uncertainty of what the future will bring, Barton continues to remain focused on patients.

“We are committed to delivering care and keeping the Lake Tahoe community healthy,” Befu said.

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