I knew that at some future point I would close my aesthetic practice, but I did not expect it to come so suddenly. I would like to inform you of the events that came together to make this happen. This is not the choice that I wanted to make but I do not have a viable choice.
By the beginning of March, the practice was struggling. The era of solo practices is ending and the slow down over the winter and Christmas season was having a toll. Cash flow had dropped but costs and employees still had to be paid. I fully expected that the practice would return to profitability with the arrival of Spring, as it had done every year before. Therefore going into March, the practice had taken on additional debt in preparation for the Spring and Summer resurgence and the growth in the Wellness practice that I was adding.
February was weaker than expected as concerns started being voiced about this novel coronavirus epidemic in China and the implications for the US. The general uptick in sales that usually starts in late February did not happen. Going into March, I became worried and started to make plans to reduce hours and encourage patients to practice social distancing when coming in to see me. I began to reach out to vendors who were demanding payments and my landlord.
On March 22, the Texas Governor signed his Non Medically Necessary procedures declaration and made it illegal for my practice to continue. The practice cash flow shut off completely while vendor payments, expenses, and especially payroll had to continue. When it became apparent that I could no longer continue payroll, I was forced to let my employees seek unemployment insurance. At that point, I no longer had a viable practice.
I signed up for the PPP program in an effort to keep the practice afloat, but I was one of the many who never received a loan through two cycles. My employees have stayed in touch but are currently making almost as much unemployed thanks to the federal government subsidy that they will not consider returning to work until the entire four months is done. I completely understand their desire.
The cost of reopening a practice in the current environment is considerable. Those costs would have to be added to the debt that the practice took on over the last six months. It isn’t even clear that I could find employees to come to work at this point in the unemployment cycle. The additional $600 a week being paid by the Federal Government has not helped small business. Finally, the change in the standard of care for aesthetic medical practice because of COVID is substantial. It is not clear that I could see enough patients to pay the current costs, much less the added debt
I do not see a viable option going forward. My only choice is to close the practice. The practice was done in by the blow of the Coronavirus shutdown while it was in a vulnerable state.
I am heart broken over the effect on my patients. I know that many of you trusted me to take care of your aesthetic needs and now I am not there for you. I am especially heartbroken for those who trusted the practice and paid for services in advance. The COVID pandemic has been a cruel and costly blow for all of us. I do not know what the future will bring or if and when I will return to some sort of practice. Once I have had the chance to process what has happen I will be making decisions as to my next step. You are one of my major considerations. Once the future is clearer, I will be able to provide more information about our options going forward.