From the beginning of the stay-home order, Godwin Acupuncture has kept its doors open because pain management is classified as an essential service. But that doesn’t mean it’s been business as usual, said Jacob Godwin, owner and sole provider.
Some acupuncturist practices had to close their doors or reduce hours because their specialties – such as allergies, digestion, anxiety and depression – were not considered essential.
Initially, Godwin thinks that most of his patients assumed his business was closed. He had a lot of no-shows, and the patient load dramatically decreased to 25% of the norm.
There were a variety of other reasons patient load dropped off: Many parents scheduled appointments when their children were at school, dubious finances caused people to go without and many stayed home for safety reasons.
“Chronic pain, you know, you’re not going to die from neck pain,” Godwin said. “A lot of people are saying, ‘Let’s wait until our finances and our schedule get back to somewhat normal.’ ”
After a few weeks of the stay-home order, Godwin said his patient volume was at about 50%. With Spokane County gradually reopening, he thinks he will keep his business operational, but since insurance payments are delayed by a couple of months, he is just now feeling the financial fallout.
He applied for the Payment Protection Program loan too late, and has received no assistance. The only other employee is his wife, Heather Godwin, the office manager.
Following the new safety standards has not been a struggle for the practice. Since he is a sole provider, staggering appointments was already the norm.
“Even at our busiest moments, it’s rare for people to even see each other in the waiting room, never mind to have to sit there with somebody,” Godwin said. “Other than the increased use of PPE, it really wasn’t a huge change.”
At first, many of his elderly patients couldn’t keep their appointments because assisted living was restricting access, but within a few weeks, that changed for some of his patients with more severe pain.
“Maybe they’ve already had surgery, they’re maxed out on medications or for some reason they can’t take medications,” Godwin said. “And for some of those patients, acupuncture is the only thing. Their pain will drive them to the emergency room. That’s going to be a person who’s not just leaving the home that they’re staying in, but being transported and brought to a hospital and using up all those resources.”
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