Dental and Doctors’ Offices Still Struggling With Coronavirus Job Loss
Topic: Dental and Doctors’ Offices Still Struggling With Coronavirus Job Loss
California’s outpatient health care practices largely shrugged off two recessions, adding more than 400,000 jobs during a two-decade climb from the start of 2000 to early 2020. It was an enviable growth rate of 85% and a trend largely mirrored on the national level.
Then came COVID-19.
Anecdotal stories abound about the crushing impact the pandemic has had on a range of outpatient medical services, from pediatric and family medical practices to dental offices, medical labs and home health care. In California, as in many other states, thousands of doctors, dentists and other health care providers temporarily closed offices this spring as state health officials directed them to suspend non-urgent visits. Many others sat open but largely idle because patients were too scared to visit the doctor given the risk of running into someone with COVID-19 in the waiting room.
As the economy has reopened, so have many medical offices. But the latest state and federal employment data underscores the lingering toll the pandemic has taken on the health care sector.
In California, employment in medical offices providing an array of outpatient care fell by 159,300 jobs, or 18%, from February to April, according to California’s Employment Development Department. The sector has recovered some, but job totals in June remained 7% below pre-crisis levels, the latest figures show. Data is not yet available for July, when COVID-19 cases in California again began to rise sharply and communities across much of the state reverted to partial shutdowns.
Nationwide, employment in outpatient care fell by about 1.3 million jobs, or 17%, from February to April, and in June also remained 7% below pre-crisis levels.
Doctors’ offices typically rely on patient volume for revenue. Without it, they can’t make payroll. Many small medical clinics weren’t flush with cash before the crisis, making COVID-19 an existential threat.
“Never in our history have we had more than a month’s cash on hand,” said Dr. Sumana Reddy, owner of the Acacia Family Medical Group in Monterey County. “Think of it that way.”
Topic Discussed: Dental and Doctors’ Offices Still Struggling With Coronavirus Job Loss