ProPublica does it again. It shows the filthy side of healthcare. As the pandemic grows, patients and healthcare workers fall victim to the deadly virus, administrators do what they are good at. Cut hours and wages. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the complexity of running a business. I run a medical practice, but it’s the lack of preparation that irks me.
Like me, if you work for an Emergency Room, you know that most ER providers are staffed by companies that contract with hospitals. One of the largest contractors, Alteon Health, recently announced that it would be reducing hours for clinicians, cutting pay for administrative employees by 20%, and suspending 401(k) matches, bonuses and paid time off. Though they claim these to be temporary measures, are they really? If this pandemic is proving anything, its proving how much of care is unnecessary in this country. Its showing us, how important primary care (this obviously translates to Telemedicine) is and what it can do when utilized in a strategic way. Not only are the the salaries being cut, but employees are being forced to be convert to low hourly rates, and getting their hours cut. Others are being furloughed entirely.
Some staffing companies, like TeamHealth will not institute any reduction in pay or benefits. But for how long will they be able to keep up? Either they must adapt, or they will risk continuing profit losses, and which can only be absorbed for so long.
Urgent Cares on the other hand are doing a better job adapting. MedExpress, owned by Optum, are innovating, and evolving with the times. They have jumped into Telemedicine and are continuing to assure their profit losses are not significant and are trying to turn profits. But, how can emergency rooms get involved in Telemedicine? Is there truly a way for Emergency departments to adapt?
The list of losses goes on: Tenet Healthcare, a Dallas-based company has postponed 401(k) matches: I’d take that instead of a pay cut. Wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, others, such as Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is holding back accrued pay for healthcare providers. The list of hospitals performing such disservice to their employees are endless.
One can say, this could not have been seen by anyone. Of course, why should it have been? Hospitals and large systems focus on profit, and profit only. They know they can sacrifice and replace the front-line workers when necessary and that is exactly what’s happening.
Finally, Physicians are realizing they must unionize. How much of a difference do you think that will make? We know this won’t happen anytime soon. Healthcare providers are realizing their vulnerability. Perhaps there will be some good that comes out of this. Only time will tell.