While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to packed emergency rooms at area hospitals it has also dealt a crippling blow to private practitioners of medicine and other small businesses who may be facing tough choices in the near future.
While Dr. George Scott has been actively practicing medicine as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Manteca for more than three decades, the doctor and his staff also got hit with an unexpected curve ball recently – a rent increase of more than 310 percent that blindsided the small staff and forced them to scramble to find somewhere else to locate their practice.
After the longtime, beloved local doctor that owned the building where Scott’s office has been located for more than a decade sold the complex upon retirement, the new owners are seeking a “market rate” return – something that office manager Debbie Rood says is forcing people to go elsewhere.
“There’s a physical therapy business that has been here for 30 years, and they can’t afford to stay,” said Rood – who has been busy facilitating the unexpected move. “This isn’t something that anybody expected to be dealing with – especially not during the middle of a crisis like this.
“It’s something that could have waited a few months.”
While Rood has been scrambling to transition the practice to a telemedicine format for the safety of both the patients and the staff, she’s also been trying to find a new location that is within the business’ operating budget – which, at current market conditions, means losing about two-thirds of the space that previously had.
And while small businesses across the country are trying everything in their power to secure funding to keep employees on, Scott’s practice didn’t even get the application from their bank until the day that it was announced that the funding for paycheck protection had completely dried up.
On top of all of that, the office has had to rely on friends from other clinics and other cities to provide the supplies necessary to maintain the operation of a medical office thanks to the pandemic – which has made it nearly impossible to track down the personal protective equipment that doctors and their staff require for their safety and the safety of their patients.
“He’s been here for a very long time – he’s delivered babies in the same hospital where he delivered their moms and dads and he loves that about this town,” Rood said. “But it’s also a scary time because we don’t have a doctor for our patients right now if he were to get sick and have to be quarantined for two or three weeks.
“There is just a lot of uncertainly right now and we’re having to deal with things that we didn’t expect that we’d have to deal with.”
Dr. Scott’s practice, currently located at 1911 E. Yosemite Avenue, will be moving soon to 210 N. Fremont Street once that space is up and operational. Tokheim-Corbett Physical Therapy, which has been serving the community since 1975 and is a suite neighbor to Scott’s current practice, will be moving next week after 16 years to 1041 N. Main Street.
“We’re positive people, and we’ll make it work,” Rood said. “But it’s a really hard time right now for everybody and it would have been nice to have had a little bit more time before we had to do this.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.