The COVID-19 impact has been devastating to our economy, and perhaps no sector is feeling the brunt of this pandemic more so than our healthcare system. Dean Dorton recently spoke with leading practice administrators at Kentucky MGMA to understand the impact that this pandemic is causing to their medical staff, employees, and finances.

Meet the Participants

Pediatric & Adolescent Associates, PSC
KMGMA President

Chief Executive Officer
Family Practice Associates of Lexington, PSC
KMGMA President-Elect

Kentucky Diabetes Endocrinology Center
KMGMA Immediate Past President

Director of Healthcare Consulting
Dean Dorton
Roundtable Moderator

Adam Shewmaker, Director of Healthcare Consulting at Dean Dorton, provides an introduction to the virtual roundtable.

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MARTINA: I am extremely impressed with how well our team is holding up. The first two weeks were the most stressful and I feel like now we are kind of getting acclimated to what’s going on. There have definitely been tears and some panic and stressful times, but the first two weeks were the most stressful. Our staff have really adapted and they have come together as a team, and they’re volunteering to go home early so that another team member can stay and work. There hasn’t been a lot of panic about “I don’t want to come to work because I’m worried I will get COVID.” They all have pulled together and done really well with all that we’ve been tasked to deal with.

CRAIG: I would say ours has been a little rockier than what Martina has described. Overall, they have been pretty well—some of them in particular have been worried about COVID. So I think there are a lot of unknowns with the family members, and just some fear—just that unknown was very stressful. We had two weeks where we were kind of pausing on some furloughs and not doing anything yet to try and do the right thing. Our employees just wanted to know if they were going to be furloughed or not.

MOLLIE: I would reiterate what Craig said. We just had a lot of anxiety about furloughs. Employees just really wanted to know, one way or another, but they seemed to handle it pretty well once we got to the point of making the decisions. But the in-between time was pretty rough. I only had one employee who just left—and said she couldn’t take it.

MARTINA: Our patient volume has dropped significantly, probably 55% at this point, and that came on very quickly. So we were pretty quick to pull the trigger on furloughing staff and physicians. Our staff really didn’t have time to be overly concerned about what was going to happen because we were so quick to tell them what was happening. We had to furlough four physician positions; we furloughed all of our part-time staff and we reduced all of our full-time staff to 30 hours per week. On top of that, we’re taking volunteers to go home early. We’re trying to get everybody in at that 30-hour mark. We also closed one of our locations temporarily and doing things that we never dreamed of doing. Overall, we typically have nine physicians in the office on a daily basis at multiple locations. We are keeping five right now; however, we only have enough work for about two-and-a-half to three.

CRAIG: My experience is similar to Martina’s; we’re down probably 60%. We’ve tried to bridge the gap some with the telehealth, telephone visits and that brought on its own set of circumstances and stress because we basically had a little bit of telehealth going on, just some e-visits, but not really video visits, so basically we rolled that out with two different methodologies in one day. So that was a problem. It would have been a two to three week process and we just scrambled to get it done. Like Martina, we laid off staff and laid off six providers completely, extending our nurse practitioners and PAs and then reduced a lot of the others. The impact has been felt, and as Martina said, it was quick. We bought a two-week time period where knew we had to do something and we just delayed as long as we could. But we finally had to pull the trigger and make hard decisions.

MOLLIE: We’re down close to 70-75% at this time. We did not do telehealth in the past. We talked about it, but we were so busy with the volume coming in, there wasn’t a time to schedule out a provider to do telehealth. Almost immediately, we laid off our part-time staff and we started offering telehealth. It was very challenging trying to implement telehealth immediately because everybody was hitting these telehealth companies all at the same time. So they’re like, “I’ll get back to you in 30 days.” We didn’t have 30 days. We got up and running on one and it seems to be going okay. But that was a huge challenge just trying to get information about telehealth that we could implement because everything hit at once.

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