Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The coronavirus outbreak has created a frightening, cash-strapped couple of months for pediatricians, as parents deferred vaccines and care for their kids.
Why it matters: Pediatric offices are still among the hardest hit physician specialties, and doctors are worried important care is falling by the wayside.
What they're saying: "Our patient volumes are slowly increasing, but it's certainly not anywhere close to where it used to be," said Daniel Summers, a private practice pediatrician in the northern suburbs of Boston.
By the numbers: Pediatric office visits dropped by more than 60% from March to April and were the slowest to recover of all other physician specialties going into May, according to researchers at Harvard University and health tech firm Phreesia.
- Parents had a lot of anxiety about bringing in their kids for routine checkups and shots, knowing a health care setting could be a highly contagious spot.
Where it stands: Pediatricians have changed how they care for kids, with dwindling cash reserves.
- Most offices pivoted immediately to virtual visits, like other specialties.
- As they've begun to reopen, they're now better stocked on personal protective equipment, and in-person visits are often staggered. For example, wellness checks could be in the mornings, while sick visits (including potential coronavirus cases) can be reserved for afternoons.
- Some pediatricians got federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, which has provided some financial stability since they were shut out of the initial health care bailout payments.
The bottom line: Families are still delaying care, even in acute cases — like when one child fell off a trampoline and broke an arm, but waited a day before getting it checked out, said Sara Goza, a practicing pediatrician and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- "We're missing things because kids aren't coming in," she said.