A small-town doctor coping with COVID-19 disruption
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One month ago today, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended that hospitals and health care systems consider postponing elective medical procedures.
Doing so helps flatten the curve, preserves masks and other equipment, and can reduce strain on medical professionals. But it also means cutting off revenue for all kinds of medical establishments, big and small.
Dr. Scott Anzalone is an independent family physician in Logan, Ohio, who owns a small practice, Stagecoach Family Medicine. A month ago he told “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal that his biggest single worry wasn’t the virus, but what it could do to the economy.
When we called him back this week to check in, he told us that his patient load has decreased as much as 50%. “We’re hanging in there, day by day,” he said. “I’m trying to keep my employees all employed so they don’t have shortened paychecks.” Although Anzalone said he has been approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, he hasn’t received any money yet.
But this small-town doctor isn’t just dealing with COVID-19 disruption in his medical practice. As president of the local school board, he’s also facing an array of challenges related to school closures.
Remote learning in a county where many people lack access to the internet is a challenge. The Logan-Hocking School District is working on innovative ways to extend its internet infrastructure — like using school buses to offer Wi-Fi.
“We’re looking at putting hotspots in our buses and driving them out to remote areas,” he told “Marketplace.” “Kids could then drive to a hotspot area, download their work, or if it reaches their home they would have access in their homes.”
Anzalone said the district has the devices and hopes to pilot the program soon.
Clarification (April 14, 2020): This story has been updated to more accurately describe the school bus internet.
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