Arizona is sending another $1.8 million to Santa Cruz Valley Regional Hospital in Green Valley as hospitals around the state brace for another wave of coronavirus cases.
Hospital CEO Kelly Adams said the funding came after approaching the state about two weeks ago.
"We said, 'Look, there's an uptick in COVID patients, ambulatory surgeries are not returning as fast as we anticipated and the ER volumes are still down by 50 percent. So, we have not returned to normal operations,'" he said.
Patrick Ptak, a spokesman with Gov. Doug Ducey's office, said they received the acceptance letter from SCVRH for the $1.8 million on Wednesday.
"Hospital capacity around the state remains critical, but especially in a community like Green Valley and this hospital that serves primarily an elderly population," Ptak said.
The funding will begin this week with a $400,000 payment. The $1.8 million will be spread out over eight weeks, with each amount reduced by $50,000.
Ptak said the governor's office would notify the Legislature about the funding Wednesday. He said the funds for SCVRH are coming from the $50 million coronavirus relief fund appropriated by the Legislature.
"They don't have to act on it," Ptak said. "These are dollars that we can expend at our discretion, but they do require notification."
However, $1.8 million doesn't mean the hospital won't have funding concerns going forward. Adams said the hospital would still be monitoring every operational dollar, expenditures and staff hours.
"We, like a lot of the other hospitals, are wanting to get back to normal operations as quick as possible," he said.
The state also advised the hospital to reach out to the county for more funding.
"We have reached out to Pima County twice, and they have some Cares money that we're hoping to get a positive response from Pima County as well," Adams said. "We wanted them to match the first go from the state, which was $3.5 (million). We're getting down to that. We're going to need that from the county."
He said Deputy County Administrator Dr. Francisco Garcia has been sympathetic to the hospital and wants to keep every bed available in the county.
"We'll want to work with them all we can to get the county to help us out," Adams said.
In an undated letter to Garcia, Adams requested a $3.5 million, low-interest loan from the county “to continue successful operations.”
According to the letter, “The hospital is currently sustaining losses of approximately $500,000 a week.”
He proposed a $3.5 million loan at a 0.5 percent interest rate to be paid back over four years.
In a reply May 18, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the county “is unable to directly provide a loan” but said they would look at other options, including a possible loan from the Cares Act.
“However, we will also need to take into consideration what other area hospitals may request,” Huckelberry wrote.