Thousands of healthcare workers across the nation have been laid off, furloughed, or are working reduced hours as patient visits decline amid stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus outbreak, USA Today reported.
The workers range from dentists and general surgeons to medical assistants and nurses, from allergists and dermatologists to primary-care physicians and pediatricians, the news outlet reported — noting specific unemployment numbers on this group are not known yet.
But a report released Thursday by HealthLandscape and the American Academy of Family Physicians estimated 60,000 family practices will close or significantly scale back, and 800,000 of their employees will be laid off, furloughed, or have their hours reduced during the pandemic.
That represents 43% of the nearly 1.9 million people employed at family medicine offices, including receptionists, medical assistants, nurses, physicians, billing staff, and janitors, USA Today reported.
“Here we are in a healthcare crisis, and you have a situation where we have to be prepared, but at the same time, it’s fundamentally changing the demand we have,” Andrew Perry, CEO of McFarland Clinic in Ames, Iowa, told the news outlet. “So we find ourselves in this odd position.”
The clinic, which employs 1,100 staff and 300 healthcare providers, is in the process of furloughing employees to match the patient volume to its staffing levels, he said.
“The cruel irony is that the people who are most able to treat the chronic diseases that put people at risk of COVID-19 are at the greatest risk of suffering a financial blow,” Jack Westfall, director of the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care told the news outlet.
Meanwhile, dental offices in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, among others, were ordered closed by governors, except for emergencies.
“Nobody knows exactly what’s going on, and that’s the scariest part of this,” Zach Kouri, a dentist in Des Moines, Iowa, who serves as vice president of the Iowa Dental Association Board of Trustees told the news outlet.
“If you had a date where you could say this is going to [end], but everybody understands that what’s happening right now can change and probably will change.
“It’s a scary time right now, both as a business owner and for my staff, who are dealing with a lot of uncertainty.”