Federal loan helps 27-employee eye group reopen, but forgiveness is in question

Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus was able to bring employees back on payroll and reopen for nonemergency cases after receiving a Paycheck Protection Program loan April 25, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The private practice, which includes 27 employees, four physicians and three offices in Pennsylvania, closed to nonemergency surgeries after the American Academy of Ophthalmology advised groups to do so March 19.

Appointments stalled, and most employees were furloughed; just the practice manager and a few others were needed to handle phones and billing. That was the case until April 25, when Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus received a PPP loan.

Employees were put back on payroll the following Monday, April 27, and the practice gained "breathing room" to resume nonemergency appointments at lower-than-normal volumes, according to Joseph Paviglianiti, MD, one of the group's physicians.

Created through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, PPP loans are intended to be at least partially forgiven if used to pay employees and overhead. However, according to Dr. Paviglianiti, changing rules have generated misinformation and confusion about loan forgiveness calculations.

Even with the PPP funding, Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus is having some trouble with supply procurement, according to Dr. Paviglianiti.

"I think most online vendors have reserved all the Lysol, hand sanitizer and wipes for hospitals, so physician offices are left to scavenge," he told the Pittsburgh Business Times.

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