CLOSEFor years, Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center has spiraled further into the red.The 24-bed charity hospital in Louisiana’s small town of Independence lost more than $15 million in 2016 and another $19 million in 2017, the latest public data available. Those losses represent nearly a third of the hospital’s total gross revenue.Then coronavirus rocked Tangipahoa Parish, where Lallie Kemp is scrambling to help treat the community’s hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 patients – many of whom are indigent and unable to pay or rely on Medicaid, which pays hospitals less than private insurance.With government restrictions banning elective procedures – one of the rural hospital’s primary money makers – the pandemic already has erased $1.3 million in expected revenue. If the quarantines continue through May, that will swell to nearly $3 million.“We don’t have any profit margin to speak of, so it will be a direct loss,” said Chad Thompson, the hospital’s chief financial officer. “And we don’t know how long this will last.”In rural communities across America, more than 800 hospitals like Lallie Kemp already faced financial peril before the pandemic took hold. Now, they must find a way to treat the 18,000 coronavirus patients in their communities. Those cases represented just

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