We are living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 had effectively shut down much of the country for anywhere between six to eight weeks depending on where you live. This shut down required the shuttering of all but essential businesses. And while demand for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle is as high as ever, healthcare unemployment was at a record high of 1.4 million jobs lost in April.
Dentists top the list
Many dental practices started closing their doors in March as the infection rate started to increase. In all, “all but 3% of dental offices” closed nationwide to routine care, based on the recommendation of the American Dental Association. Their reasoning was twofold; it would preserve much needed personal protective equipment (or PPE) for front line workers and help prevent the spread of the virus. In all, dentist offices lost 503,000 jobs last month.
Specialists hit hard
Certain specialties, those that involve more elective procedures, took a big hit as well. Also, providers that require a hand’s-on approach to treatment, like Physical Therapy had to reduce hours or close completely. Physicians offices in total accounted for 243,000 lost jobs. Some practices furloughed medical staff from techs to nurses to NP’s and PA’s, even up to MD’s and PhD’s. Due to the reduced patient volume, less staff were needed to treat the few patients who were coming in.
Likewise, elective procedures like Colonoscopies, mammograms, aesthetic procedures, even some transplants were put on hold until COVID infection rates decreased.
The Healthcare industry has not been hit nearly as hard as other industries, particularly the Leisure & Hospitality businesses, who were hardest hit. However, as states start to roll out their re-opening guidelines, there is a concern about how much focus will be placed on returning to doctors quickly after the stay at home orders are lifted. Certainly, for those with chronic conditions that need monitoring, as well as accidents and emergencies, there will be a return to business. There is a concern though that many may put off annual wellness checks or regular dental cleanings out of fear of transmission. Some providers are estimating it could take a year to get back to business as “normal.”