On a recent episode of New Retina Radio, John Kitchens, MD, spoke with Robert Foster, MD, chairman of the board of directors at the Cincinnati Eye Institute, and Alan Ruby, MD, a managing partner at Associated Retina Consultants in Royal Oak, Michigan, about how practices can navigate the financial disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis in their practices.
During the broadcast, the panelists discussed whether private practice groups should apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal initiative designed to incentivize small businesses to retain employees by providing loans to small business owners that are forgiven if certain terms are met.
“I think for groups that have less than 500 total employees—that includes providers, by the way—it’s a no brainer,” Dr. Foster said, noting that his group’s size precluded it from eligibility.
Dr. Foster pointed out that PPP applicants can expect to compete for loans with other applicants. “PPP is not specific for health care,” he said, “so you’re going to be in line with every other small business across the United States.”
Employee management—everything from deciding if furloughing employees is a prudent decision to determining policies around PTO—is key. Finding a way to do what is best for employees will determine the future of some practices.
“It’s very, very easy to manage and very easy to lead when things are going well,” Dr. Ruby said. He said that employees will not remember “the times when it was easy for you to do something, they’re going to remember what you did when the times were tough.”
“Our practices are going to rebound and there’s a huge backlog of patients that are going to have to be taken care of,” he continued. “And so our philosophy has been more than anything to make sure the staff are taken care of, both from a physical standpoint in terms of trying to keep them safe and out of harm’s way, and also from a psychological standpoint. We want them to know that they’re critical to the functioning of the practice, not only now when times are tough, but also when we know that things are going to improve. And without them, it’s going to be impossible really for us to continue to see patients.