Many Dermatology Practices Stay Open, Ignoring Public Health Pleas

Multiple attempts to reach Pinnacle’s chief executive, Chad A. Eckes, were unsuccessful.

“The Covid crisis is bringing out a real tension between what’s good for practices versus what’s best for our patients, staff and community at large,” said Dr. Justin Ko, chief of medical dermatology at Stanford University.

A spate of private-equity acquisitions of dermatology practices in recent years has prompted concern from within the specialty that many of those practices are under increased pressure to generate revenue.

California Skin Institute, a practice with 44 locations throughout California, is not owned by a private equity firm, but Goldman Sachs has a minority investment in it. The practice says on its website that it “is considered an essential business.” Callers to the practice get a recorded message stating that it “remains open and fully operational, providing a full range of services.”

Dr. Greg S. Morganroth, California Skin Institute’s founder and chief executive officer, did not respond to requests for comment, but Jonathan Lindeke, general counsel for the practice, said the company has stopped all cosmetic dermatology, and has furloughed all its aestheticians, laser nurses and cosmetic consultants.

Mr. Lindeke added that the company’s “overall business is down substantially.” Several office locations have closed, he said, and the majority of offices that remain open are on a reduced schedule.

California Skin Institute is keeping as many offices as possible open, Mr. Lindeke said, for patients who need medical dermatology. This, he said, “keeps the patients out of urgent care centers or the emergency room, reducing the burden on those facilities.”

Dr. Carrie Kovarik, a dermatologist at the University of Pennsylvania who is on the American Academy of Dermatology’s ad hoc task force on Covid-19, said the decision to remain open is up to individual practices. “The best we can do is offer our guidance and advice,” she said.

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