Orthopedic group cut pay for 60 physicians, retained 93% of staff after volumes vanished


Using the federal Paycheck Protection Program and a state program for partial unemployment pay, Westerville, Ohio-based Orthopedic One retained 93 percent of its staff during elective surgery standstills, CEO Tim Smith told Columbus Business First.

Seven things to know:

1. After a statewide ban on elective procedures took effect in March — with exceptions for procedures needed to stop disease progression or loss of function — Orthopedic One saw 90 percent of its revenue vanish.

2. Orthopedic One was one of three healthcare groups in Central Ohio to qualify for a PPP loan from the Small Business Administration in the $5 million to $10 million range. Mr. Smith declined to specify the exact amount his practice received.

3. Orthopedic One also signed up for SharedWork Ohio, a partial-unemployment program designed to financially support approved businesses that keep employees at half their normal hours. The agreement lasts one year, meaning employees won't have to re-register if a second disruption to services occurs in that timeframe.

4. In March, Orthopedic One's board members delayed plans for a new headquarters and four-story medical office with MRI services and physical and occupational therapy. Planning has since resumed, and construction on the Westerville facility could start within one or two months. Costs are expected to fall somewhere around $20 million.

5. The board also voted in March to suspend pay for all 60 physicians and surgeons, and to reduce management pay. About 40 positions were eliminated, and 10 other employees found new jobs, leaving 650 employees that stayed on part-time.

"If things continue as they're going now, the owners of Orthopedic One will obviously have lower income in 2020 than we otherwise would have had, but the business is strong and will be fine," Mr. Smith said.

6. For the practice, which is Ohio's largest, procedures gradually resumed in May. Volume is now at more than 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

7. If the state bans elective procedures again to preserve supplies, staffing and capacity for COVID-19 patients, Orthopedic One will take the exact same course of action it did the first time around, Mr. Smith said.

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