AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 16

RUNNING THE PRACTICE // LEADERSHIP LOG

WORK IN THE TIME OF
CORONA-JOURNAL
EXCERPTS
Ashlie Barefoot Malone, MBA, JD, COE

F

ebruary 2020 started like
any other month. Our small
surgical practice was heading
into its twelfth February since
opening in the spring of 2008
amidst the worst economic
downturn in recent history.
Although 2020 was already promising new challenges, vague media
stories about a new, or " novel, "
virus in China was strange enough
to be interesting, but subtle enough
to suggest our small southern
community in Charleston, South
Carolina, had nothing to fear.
March 7: Local news outlet
Live5News reports, " First possible
S.C. novel coronavirus cases detected
in Charleston, Kershaw Counties. " Is
this thing here? Is it real?
The one thing I know for certain
is I would survive in the wild. When
stress kicks in, my survival instincts
take over and the checklist begins:
Is payroll covered? Check. Full
clinic and OR schedules? Check.
Staff healthy and happy? Check. So
then we don't have anything real
to worry about, right? The world
has viruses and surely this thing is
nothing more than a new type of
flu. Regardless, it surely won't affect
my practice . . . right?
March 16: Patients have been
rescheduling like crazy and ASCs

16

AE // May/June 21

across the state have canceled all
elective surgeries, including ours.
The " home or work " directive
halts 99% of our surgical revenue
stream overnight. We are a surgical
practice. Decrease clinical volumes
by 80% from COVID-19 cancellations and then remove surgical
revenue, and we have problems.
Real problems. Things are feeling
more uncomfortable. Time to call a
staff meeting.
April 6: There is something
counterintuitive to building up
a practice and then in one day
having to terminate half your staff
to survive. Thankfully, CARES Act
funding looks promising. Maybe
we can figure out this telemedicine
thing. Time to pull in the reins.
See which bills to pay, which ones
can wait.
May 25: Somehow celebrating
Memorial Day seems contradictory. Why would the practice close
for a holiday when we have barely
been open the past two months?
The HHS grant and CARES Act
funding saved our practice. If I
think about any of this too long,
I feel overwhelmed and sad. But
then I think about it anyway and
realize I am incredibly thankful.
As we pause to honor others this
Memorial Day holiday, I am

reminded that sometimes the greatest acts of heroism are happening
all around us, right where we are.
June: Confusing. Schedules are
full, insurance payments again
hitting the bank account; we're
back to 100% of our original staff
and seeing clinical patients under
heightened safety precautions.
Although I have heard rumors of
patients suffering with COVID-19,
the virus has seemed to miss our
little pocket of the world and I am
cautiously optimistic it will soon
be over.
July: VACATION. Perhaps
we just needed to feel normal, or
perhaps the need to travel overshadowed the fear of traveling. Clinic
schedules still full, still zero cases
of COVID-19 within the practice.
Perhaps our crazy mask-wearing,
desk-wiping, distancing protocol
were enough after all.
August 17: A Monday, our
busiest day of the week, hectic
with full clinics and emergent cases
trickling in from the weekend. This
particular Monday two employees
stayed home, one with a slight
fever and one with a sore throat
and headache. The practice's strict
COVID-19 policy requires all
illness to be treated at home and
COVID-19 symptoms are met



AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3

AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover1
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover2
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 1
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 2
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 3
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AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover3
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover4
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https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ASOA/asoa_sepoct14_AE
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