Altru Hospital is looking at decreased revenue and increased expenses because of the situation surrounding coronavirus, and the impact is set to be considerable.

Kristi Hall-Jiran, chief philanthropy officer at Altru, said the number of patients without health insurance will increase as people are laid off their jobs, making it difficult to pay hospital bills. At the same time, patients are cancelling appointments and putting off elective procedures that generate a significant amount of revenue for the hospital.

“We're looking at tracking our lost revenues and increased expenses so we'll be able to share those down the road, so we can keep track of that impact,” said Hall-Jiran. “Suffice it to say it's going to be major.”

Hall-Jiran also said the supply of items, such as N95 respirators, is tight, and Altru is working with local entities, including UND, to share their supplies. The N95 masks are used by staff members to prevent them from contracting COVID-19. She said she is reaching out to local manufacturing and construction companies for donations of the respirators.

Altru is taking steps to conserve supplies of other items as well, such as surgical gowns.

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Staff at Altru have the same concerns about the virus as other Americans, said Hall-Jiran, but the working environment makes those concerns unique.

“I think we have that added stress of being in the health care environment and just that anxiety about being exposed to the virus,” she said.

She concluded her remarks by telling people to follow guidelines about washing their hands and staying home. She asked people who feel they may have the virus to call the hospital’s hotline before walking into the facility. That number is (701) 780-6358.

Hall Jiran gave her remarks at the fourth installment of business listening sessions, organized by the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber, Downtown Development Association, The Greater Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporations and the city. The meeting was held by video conference on Thursday, March 26.

Previous sessions covered the food and restaurant industry, retail and manufacturing. Today's session covered professional services.

A recent change that came out of a previous session was the city allowing places with class 4 liquor licenses to deliver beer and growlers, along with meals. Jonathan Holth, community and client development manager at JLG Architects, said the sessions were effective.

“Local government has the ability to be nimble as concerns come up, so please reach out to us individually. We're available to you at any time,” Holth said.

City Council member Dana Sande wondered if service industry leaders thought about presenting a plan to the mayor or governor about reopening, provided they could maintain social distancing between customers.

Holth said restaurant leaders already talk about what is best for their industry, though he is willing to discuss a plan to create new opportunities to earn money. Any plans, he said, would need to be balanced with public health concerns in mind.

City Council member and moderator of the meeting Bret Weber took the time to urge people to buy gift cards from local businesses as a way of support. In order to make sure the money is going to a local business, the cards need to be bought directly from a shop or by using the shop’s local, not corporate, website.

“It's a zero % interest loan that you can give to your favorite local business,” Weber said.

Tomorrow’s listening session will cover nonprofit organizations.

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