They’re working much less than 75% of their normal hours, but we’ve made a commitment to our staff that they won’t be paid less than 75% of their normal pay. —Jed Grisel, MD
Explore This IssueJune 2020
With elective surgeries put on hold by law in some states, otolaryngology practices spent weeks effectively shut down or operating in a very limited capacity, primarily for emergencies. Jed Grisel, MD, of Texoma ENT & Allergy in Wichita Falls, Texas, said his practice was operating at about 30% of its usual volume from the time the governor of Texas made it illegal to perform elective surgeries in late March through the end of April. Dr. Grisel’s practice was able to secure a PPP loan for $430,000 to cover payroll for their 38 employees during that time and into the next month. “They all have families and mortgages or rent and other bills to pay, and we really wanted to find a way to avoid furloughs or layoffs,” he said.
While the loan will cover payroll for about two months, Texoma ENT & Allergy will need to rely on its small amount of savings and the incoming revenue from insurance companies to cover other expenses. The business paid staff 75% of their normal pay—per the requirements for the PPP loan to be forgiven—but reduced their employees’ hours substantially. Dr. Grisel said most of the staff came in one day per week to work on reorganizing and preparing for reopening the allergy shot clinic. They also used that time to train staff on how to use the previously purchased new electronic health record system that will debut in June. “They’re working much less than 75% of their normal hours, but we’ve made a commitment to our staff, at least for the next two months, that they won’t be paid less than 75% of their normal pay,” he said.
David Melon, MD, of Carolina Ear Nose & Throat – Sinus & Allergy Center P.A., with three locations in North Carolina, said his practice’s largest expenses are payroll and healthcare costs. They have been covering those costs with a PPP loan, advance payment from Medicare, HHS grant money, and a physician partner salary reduction. Their ambulatory surgery center is a joint venture with two regional hospitals and is coordinating only emergent surgery support functions until elective surgery resource restrictions are lifted. “The ambulatory surgery center is doing similar PPP support mitigation strategies so as to be able to rapidly respond as a lower-cost point of service for ambulatory surgery once the non-emergent case restriction is waived,” he said.