Healthcare Workers Hit with Pay Cuts and Lay Offs

Healthcare Workers Hit with Pay Cuts and Lay Offs

There are not many jobs that you can pick for your career path that you simply know you will always have job security, but medicine is one of them. People are going to always get sick. Babies are going to be born. The flu season comes and goes.

Until the novel coronavirus hits. No one knows if it is a seasonal affliction. No one knows how to stop it. No one knows when it will be over. The only certain is extreme illness, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Reports from inside the hospital say it is like a war zone.

Gone is the security of knowing layoff will never come for many medical workers, some are finding out their wages have been cut. The economic crisis does not usually touch medical workers, until now. No job is safe in the COVID-19 zone.

OB/GYN Practices Aggressively Impacted

With the safety measures needing to be taken to protect patients from transmitting COVID-19, OB/GYN is only needed at this time for checking the progress of pregnant women, emergency procedures for women who aren’t pregnant, and for the delivery of babies (and some mothers are opting for a home birth from fear of the spread of the virus).

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Most OB/GYN practices are seeing up to a 50% decrease in their revenue even with telemedicine visits. Nurses, medical assistants, and office staff are facing a decrease in their hours and their pay or going the difficult route of taking a voluntary layoff. Doctors are being forced to take substantial pay cuts that they thought they would never see in the life of their career. There are private practices who are questioning if they can keep their doors open through this tumultuous time in our nation.

Everyone Feels the Pressure of the Virus

Atrius Health, the largest group of independent physicians in Massachusetts has begun to feel the crunch proving no matter how big or small your practice is, a global pandemic can bring change. Atrias has reported that their patient volume is down 75% since the middle of March and they have begun to temporarily close many of their offices. Nonclinical employees have been placed on furlough and for the employees who remain, a portion of their pay is being withheld. The average withholding is 20% with a pledge from Atrias that they pay will be returned. Only workers who make below $55,000 are exempt from the withholding.

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Steward Health Care considered themselves prepared for the pandemic, but stated nothing could brace them for the seismic financial impact. Elective surgeries being the cornerstone of their system’s operating mode, the negative impact of procedures being canceled hit the organization unexpectedly. The cancellations began with cautious patients wanting to defer treatments, procedures, and routine visits. The snowball effect began when the CDC recommended that no elective surgeries take place until further notice.

Treating Patients during a Pandemic

There are some general practitioners and specialists who are still able to check in on their patients and monitor their progress during this crisis. Through telehealth, clinicians are continuing their practice while keeping their patients safe in their own homes, away from the risk of contamination. Some clinicians have found themselves turning to the medical groups who already had a strong telemedicine platform in place before the pandemic and are continuing to operate at full staff.

What Will the New Normal Be?

No one truly knows what the new normal will be when this pandemic is no longer a global state of emergency. What most are sure of, though, is that telehealth will soon be mainstream in health care delivery. The question is not if there will be another pandemic, the question is when. Telemedicine puts the patient more in control of his/her medical condition management.

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The more Americans that discover they can take their blood pressure, blood glucose, and more vitals from home and have them report directly to clinician staff in real-time the more Americans will embrace this “new” way of “seeing” their doctor.

This pandemic has been an eye-opener for everyone and clinicians who once railed against telehealth are now leaning towards complete acceptance as it is the only way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread while still keeping up with their patients who have not been contaminated.

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