Orthopedic group expects 2-month backlog, aims to reinstate all 219 furloughed workers


Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine plans to resume elective surgeries May 4 at certain locations and bring back workers who were furloughed during temporary closures, according to an exclusive report by the Cincinnati Business Courier.

Beacon's 27 physicians will restart elective procedures at the practice's main office in Sharonville, Ohio, as well as at the practice's surgery center in Green Township, Ohio, CEO Andy Blankemeyer told a Cincinnati Business Courier reporter.

In March, COVID-19-related restrictions led Beacon to temporarily close four of its nine locations and furlough 219 of its 570 workers, including administrative and clinical employees. The practice aims to bring all the furloughed employees back in "waves."

The initial wave, which includes nurses, technicians, medical assistants and front-desk staff, will return the week that procedures resume. The number of staff members returning in the first wave will depend on how many surgeries get rescheduled.

Beacon began rescheduling surgeries after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's April 27 announcement that Ohio would ease restrictions on elective cases, which took effect March 18. Surgeries not requiring overnight stays are allowed to resume beginning May 1.

Beacon's biggest backlog is for total joint replacements, according to Mr. Blankemeyer. The practice's surgeons expect it will take two months to clear its entire backlog of patients, which also includes those waiting for spinal procedures, hand and wrist treatments, and orthopedic care.

Mr. Blankemeyer and Beacon's 20 physician-owners will continue working without pay as operations resume with screening protocols, visitor restrictions, mask requirements and Plexiglass barriers in place. Beacon has reopened all but one location, which is expected to reopen within weeks.

"We're prepared for a new normal that will last for quite some time," Mr. Blankemeyer told the Cincinnati Business Courier. "That's why we spent a lot of time and energy developing a process that keeps the patients and employees safe and our physicians operating."

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