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COVID Taking Toll on Finances, Mental Health of BH Providers

November 20, 2020

Although a majority of addiction treatment providers have forged ahead through the COVID-19 pandemic, not closing programming or facilities, a combination of unforeseen pandemic-related expenses and fewer admissions have put a financial—and mental—strain on the industry in 2020, according to results in a survey recently published by the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 28, NAATP conducted an online poll of its members on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations; 165 member organizations participated. Although 73% of members say they have not closed any facilities or programming, the pandemic has taken a demonstratable toll:

  • Two-thirds of respondents say they have had decreased revenue. Of those that have lost revenue, 28% say they’ve lost between 25%-50% and 16% say they’ve lost three-quarters of their revenue vs. the previous year.
  • 81% say they have had to handle unexpected expenses, with additional personal protective equipment (83%) and technology (74%) being the most common.
  • Although 57% of respondents say they have not reduced their patient capacity as a result of COVID, 58% say they’ve seen a decrease in new admissions since February. (Of note, 21% say they have had an increase in new patients.)

“As NAATP reviews the results from our COVID impact survey, and similar surveys conducted by NCBH, our primary concern is the continued health of the field during and after the COVID pandemic,” NAATP director of quality assurance Peter Thomas told BHE in an email. “We see conflicting realities as providers struggle to remain viable, while the demand for treatment services increases. It is critical that regulators support policies that protect treatment providers, and ensure continued treatment capacity for patients impacted by both the SUD and COVID health crises.

Weathering the storm

More than 56% of providers say they have received funds through the Paycheck Protection Program, and of those, 88% say their loans are forgivable. With the aforementioned investment in technology, 80% of respondents say they have shifted at least some service offerings to virtual platforms (77% of which expect to continue their new virtual programming post-pandemic). Most facilities are retaining their full staffs with 77% reporting they have not furloughed employees and 82% reporting zero layoffs.

Still, nearly half (49%) say they have observed more signs of burnout among staff members during the pandemic.

“We understand that this is just about survival right now,” one organization told NAATP in its survey response. “We are doing what we can to keep patients and employees safe.”

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