Dispatches from the dining room: Another stupid question? Everyone's a critic

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08/12/2020

Every month HME News sends out a newspoll to gauge provider opinion on timely issues affecting the HME industry. Some poll questions are better than others, but we always try to put thought into them.

It’s harder than you might think.

Every once in awhile, while scrolling through the responses readers are kind enough to submit, we’ll get a comment like this: “Another stupid question.”

The month’s stupid question was about providers’ take on the COVID-19 pandemic: What is the pandemic like in your area and how is it affecting your business? Do you think the pandemic will get worse as we head into the fall/winter?

Now, I’m not one who subscribes to the notion that there’s no such thing as a stupid–I worked retail. Trust me, there are stupid questions.

With all that’s going on with the pandemic—the polarization, the politicization, the general panic­–we were curious to see how providers, who serve among front line workers, were faring. They also believe, almost unanimously, that things will get worse before they get better.

Five months into this national disaster, HME providers have adapted as best they can. Depending on where they are located, providers are dealing with increased costs, equipment shortages and mask mandates. They have tightened belts, applied for Paycheck Protection loans to keep staff employed and adapted their business models to keep up with market demands.

And they do it while fearing for their own safety.

“I worry that one of our employees will bring it into the store and infect everyone else, causing us to have to shut down, but what can I do about it? I can't police everyone else's off-work time other than to stress how dangerous this all is to everyone,” wrote Ryan French.

Like Ryan, I have my own concerns about the virus. I’m in a higher risk category. I wear my mask when I go out. Like many people, I am irritated when I see others who don’t. But to maintain my sanity, I try to employ the same philosophy that I apply to life in general: assume no ill will.

After all, we’re all just doing the best we can. Even that provider in Pennsylvania who thinks we ask stupid questions.