The Pulse: May 2020 Edition
Keep your finger on The Pulse of what's happening in health care. We deliver monthly highlights of the developments shaping our field. From our country's sad milestone to ways healthcare providers and facilities can weather the storm in this pandemic, here is the latest.
A Sad Milestone
Since the first documented case in the US four months ago, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Americans. A day after these devastating numbers were reported, President Trump writes on Twitter that our country has reached “a very sad milestone.”
Yet, even as the death toll climbs, every state has begun to reopen. The first week of May saw 25 million more Americans leave their homes than on any given day in the six weeks prior. After over a month of the stay-at-home order, many people have come to see the virus as more of an inconvenience or devastation to their livelihood than a legitimate threat to themselves and their loved ones. The main reason for this shift is how the virus has spread across the country.
Unlike what experts predicted, we haven’t seen a peak in cases or a clear curve. What we have seen is variable patterns in pockets across the country that have made the virus ever elusive from containment and projection. Just as the number of cases in New York began to subside, other states like North Carolina and Texas experienced an upswing, while others like Hawaii and Maine have seen vast fluctuations. On the national scale, what may look like a plateau in cases is really just the aggregate of a patchwork pandemic.
This type of pandemic makes it hard to keep the general public invested in containment. When the virus first came to America, people complied with the stay-at-home orders in the interest of the health and safety of their communities. But as the weeks passed and many areas had yet to be hit, people developed a false sense of security and/or a cynicism that the socioeconomic impact of the disease is worse than the disease itself.
To be fair, the virus has devastated so many, as the number of people who have filed for unemployment has now surpassed 40 million. One in four Americans is jobless, and those working in the healthcare industry are no exception.
In the last edition of The Pulse, we covered the mass unemployment and pay cuts among healthcare workers and the financial ruin of healthcare systems across the country. This trend has also had a rippling effect on the communities these systems serve, as patients were unable to get necessary care, and many lost their lives for it.
Yet, until we have a vaccine, the only way to mitigate the spread of coronavirus is to ensure the general public takes the necessary precautions to avoid risky behavior, which as health psychologist Susan Michie says means “breaking the habits of a lifetime.”
How to Weather the Storm
The future is uncertain in the wave of this pandemic, but there are ways to weather the storm to keep yourself afloat.
For providers who have been laid off, furloughed or are unable to work, there are financial resources through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for independent contractors who may otherwise be ineligible for regular unemployment benefits. Benefits are retroactively available to those who were affected on and after January 27, 2020.
Because the CARES Act is managed on a state-by-state basis, you will have to contact your state unemployment insurance office for more information. For anyone seeking locum tenens or permanent employment at this time, contact us today to see what jobs we have available in your specialty and desired location.
For hospitals and clinics experiencing an influx of patients, don’t let your staff get overwhelmed amid this crisis. Not getting the support you need will cost more than adding to your head count. A single provider vacancy costs a facility millions every year, not only for the loss of the individual provider services but also for the ancillary care they can incur having their patients treated at the facility instead of being deferred elsewhere.
The latest MGMA data shows how much your facility could be losing on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis by not having the help you need.
This breakdown only applies to physicians, but other recent MGMA data shows that having more advanced practice providers will also yield higher profits and productivity. Let us know how we can help alleviate your facility’s pain points with help from the best physicians and advanced practice providers across the country.
Until the storm of this pandemic subsides, we need to be life rafts for each other, to support and preserve the health and safety of each other. The only way we can make it through this is if we do it together.