A new data note summarizes and analyzes survey data collected by HRSA, as reported for May 22nd, 2020.  While drawing definitive conclusions based on the cross sectional data is difficult, after 8 weeks of  reporting, certain themes and areas of concern emerge:

  • First, site closures remain widespread, suggesting a significant loss of access points. The 1,959 closed sites represent a 16% decline, or closures of 1 in  six sites nationally.
  • Ten percent of staff were reported as not able to work. While this is an improvement from the 16% seen in the earliest weeks, a 10% loss translates into approximately 23,000 fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) staff members. Staffing losses this large carry significant implications for site reopening.
  • Some of the site closures and staffing declines may be linked to a lack of critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The availability of fully protective gear such as N95 masks remains below the level needed to protect a full complement of the workforce, and varies widely by state.
  • The data for this week show a decline in testing, which could be linked to a number of factors, including a shortage of PPE, site closures, and a persistent loss of staff.
  • Compared to pre-COVID-19 visits, visit volume remains dramatically reduced from typical operating levels, with  visits  for the past week  down by 38%, a figure that translates into substantial revenue losses.

The data raise important questions as health centers continue to respond to the pandemic and  prepare for reopening in a vastly different environment. The note was produced by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative. Download the data note here.