East Alabama doctor shares clinic’s challenges during COVID-19

East Alabama doctor shares clinic’s challenges during COVID-19

OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - According to the American Medical Association, 97 percent of medical practices across the country have been negatively impacted financially because of COVID-19.

One Opelika pediatrician says it’s no different in East Alabama.

Much like restaurants and retailers, medical practices see the impacts of COVID-19 everyday.

“The way we deliver healthcare, just like the way a restaurant needs to deliver their service, has changed dramatically over this time,” said Richard Glaze, M.D.

Restricting visits, finding ways to treat patients outside, and assessing how to keep patients safe and feeling comfortable are just a few policies Glaze said they’ve been evaluating.

“You have to be willing to examine every aspect of your business and say, ‘Okay. What can we do to meet those changing demands everyday?‘” he said.

In addition to feeling the impacts of these changing demands and despite the necessity of medical care, Glaze said healthcare professionals and their clinics also feel the financial impacts of COVID-19, especially in late March and April.

“In terms of patient volume, we were down to 30 to 35 percent of what we normally saw,” he said.

According to Glaze, they’ve been able to keep all their employees and stay afloat thanks to the paycheck protection program (PPP), loans, and the business they had over the winter.

“But there’s been some scary times wondering if you were going to be able to pay the bills out of what you made,” he said.

Even now, Glaze said overall they’re still down about 20 to 30 percent in terms of patient numbers. While they’re not sure what the future will bring, he said they are preparing for more patients in the next few months.

“As we get closer to school, we imagine there will be a lot more well care that needs to be done,” he said. “We’re going to figure out ways to meet that demand. We’ve got tents outside the building to see sick folks that need to be seen in the morning while we’re doing well care. And we’re doing a lot of things outside to make sure we don’t have cross contamination.”

Glaze said he’s optimistic. He said they’ve been around for 50 years and plan to be around another 50 in the future.

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