Health care continues to adjust to COVID-19 demands

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

Medical professionals have spent years studying and training to give patients the best care possible, but the COVID-19 pandemic has meant learning on the fly and being more flexible than ever. 

Hands typing on laptop with stethoscope on table.

“The biggest struggle throughout all of this has been dealing with a situation that is new to everyone,” said Matthew Cavanagh, a partner in the health care & accounting services area at Gilmore Jaison Mahler in Maumee. “There is no roadmap on how it should be handled. They are taking it one day at a time and continue to do what they do best, treat patients.” 

Cavanagh said over the summer and fall months many health care areas were able to return to “near pre-COVID-19 levels with the elective procedure restrictions being lifted.” He said now health care practices continue to monitor their expenses and are slow to commit to capital investments, and costs of operations have continued to rise because of additional expenses such as personal protection equipment (PPE). 

Mary Beth Colatruglio, CPA, director of accounting at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, said that as a pediatric hospital they haven’t seen very many COVID cases. Nevertheless, earlier this year they collected PPE and updated guidelines to ensure staff, patients and patient families were protected. They also partnered with other hospitals in central Ohio to make plans in case another facility is overwhelmed by patients. 

“When the state shut down pretty much all non-emergent services in March, we didn't really have a choice but to expand those services virtually and expand them quickly,” she said. “And that has been a really good thing for our patient population, just to make available the services they would have missed otherwise.” 

The plan for now is to continue what they’ve been doing through summer and fall into winter, Colatruglio said. After opening for non-emergent services at the end of May, they spent the summer fitting spaces with plexiglass dividers, putting up new signage and reconfigure office furniture to allow for social distancing. 

As temperatures drop and more people stay inside, Cavanagh said his clients are stockpiling PPE and other supplies in anticipation of the predicted second, third and fourth waves of COVID-19. 

“It's all evolving,” Colatruglio said. “And I think the only way we're going to get through this is to just stay flexible and take each day for what it is. Management must be working ahead and planning for different scenarios. But I think the more that we can just remain flexible on a day-to-day basis, I think that's going to really be a key to our success.” 

“Ultimately, the health care industry will come through the pandemic better on the other side,” Cavanagh said. “By embracing the challenge of dealing with this pandemic, it has learned of new ways to treat their patients and manage their businesses. The industry has been forced to identify efficiencies and these efficiencies will provide long-term benefits to the industry.” 

For health care related learning, check out the AICPA Webcast: Blockchain for Healthcare

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