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Doctor's offices being denied special small business loans

Posted at 12:31 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 15:31:12-04

NEW YORK – Congress is negotiating a renewal of a crucial program that is meant to fund small businesses during the pandemic shutdown.

However, crucial small businesses have consistently failed to get funding under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including doctor’s offices.

“The first thing I felt was eight years of building a business, and a community, and so much more than was on paper, just went out the window in less than a minute,” Matteo Trisolini said, reflecting on the moment he was rejected for the PPP loan.

His company, South Slope Pediatrics, a small family office, had applied as soon as enrollment began two weeks ago. Trisolini was reasonably confident he would be approved.

The loan denial, because money ran out in the program, was devastating to his staff and the community it serves. His doctors and staff will have to go part-time. The office is mainly staying open, at least in part, to take care of their youngest, most vulnerable patients.

“This is about making sure my team can take care of their children, still put a meal on the table,” he said. “This is about people being able to have the service available when they need a doctor.”

The Paycheck Protection Program was a simple and effective idea to help crucial Main Street shops and their employees through the pandemic. Banks could issue $349 billion in loans to small businesses. If those businesses used the money to continue to pay their employees, the loan would be forgiven.

However, many banks prioritized big bucks for big chains, like $20 million for Ruth’s Chris Steak House and $10 million for Shake Shack. A loophole in the program categorized those companies as a small businesses based on the number of workers at an individual location.

Shake Shack is returning the money due to bad PR, and their leadership cited confusion over the rules.

So as the Trump administration and Congressional Democrats near a deal on replenishing the PPP, Trisolini wants them to keep essential small businesses like his in mind.

He’s aware of several other small doctor’s offices in the same position as South Slope.

“If I were able to be there as they make decisions, I would just talk about the humans that are behind those numbers, and their decision on how to prioritize these loans are going to affect every single individual,” he said.

This story was originally published by Henry Rosoff at WPIX.