Clinicians, researchers, students and staff at Oregon Health & Science University have stepped up valiantly to deliver care to the sickest Oregonians while carrying out OHSU’s education and research missions in the midst of the first pandemic in a century. As if COVID-19 isn’t challenging enough, the cost of services, supplies and workforce needed to provide critical health care services increased far beyond our projections and revenue has not kept pace, placing additional stress on frontline workers who never imagined having to struggle to secure basic supplies like baby formula for newborns at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, as one example.
In light of these challenges, OHSU’s board of directors on Friday adopted an operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that exactly matches expenses against expected revenues. The $4.3 billion budget is a contrast to previous years, when operating margins were reinvested into the university’s health care, research and education missions, and includes spending down a significant portion of OHSU’s reserves, or cash on hand, and redeploying executive incentive funds.
OHSU will face this challenge as we have faced others: United, as one university, in our mission to improve the health and well-being of Oregonians who depend on the state’s only public academic health center. Supporting people and our missions will remain our priority as we manage through an exceptionally challenging health care environment nationwide.
A national and local shortage of health care workers has left OHSU without enough staff, beds and appointment slots to care for everyone who needs us. Because delays in care often exacerbate health conditions, patients are arriving at OHSU with more complex and acute health care needs because of delays in care during the pandemic. This is especially challenging at OHSU, which is a high-acuity trauma facility and regional referral center drawing patients from throughout the state and beyond – including Oregon’s most vulnerable, underserved residents.
The zero-margin operating budget will balance the immediate and essential needs of our people and missions with our obligation to provide long-term financial stability. By balancing operating revenues and expenses, the budget maintains OHSU’s long-term capacity as a public research university and health system that serves all of Oregon.