One of the top medical providers for music festivals is transitioning its business into employee coronavirus screenings as big events remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future.
ParaDocs Worldwide counts Governors Ball, Panorama, and Electric Zoom among its biggest clients, but it also works with sporting events and political campaigns. In a normal year, spring and summer are its busiest seasons.
"We basically set up a mini-hospital on-site with emergency room physicians," CEO Alex Pollack told Cheddar. "We can treat everything from minor injuries to suturing and cardiac arrest."
ParaDocs' last big event gig was back in March at the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival in central Florida. Since then, most large gatherings, with a few notable exceptions, remain strictly banned by even the most skeptical state governments.
This left ParaDocs with its main business model taken away almost overnight. Fortunately, though, its expertise in rapidly deploying medical services was exactly what the doctor ordered in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in New York City.
"In the beginning, we set up mobile hospitals, which is basically what the city needed," said Pollack, who's been a paramedic in New York since 1998 and spent years working in an ambulance.
Some ParaDocs employees also worked with FEMA, while other doctors on staff were put to work in hospitals. At the same time, the City of New York contacted ParaDocs to help set up coronavirus screening infrastructure for essential businesses such as UPS, FreshDirect, Whole Foods, and municipal agencies.
"They wanted medical staff doing temperature checks and health questionnaires at all their facilities before anyone was allowed on-site," Pollack said. "So we've been doing this literally since the city went on lockdown."
This has since developed into ParaDocs main business.
Now that industries across the country are adopting similar testing measures as the economy reopens, ParaDocs is positioning itself as a full-service solution for companies looking to do their due diligence. Much of the screening process is fairly low-tech, Pollack said. The questionnaire that ParaDocs uses is based on CDC guidelines and includes questions about symptoms, international travel, and possible contact with an infected person. Companies can choose to keep it simple or tack on extra questions.
"It really runs the gamut. Some of them get really detailed and ask like 15 questions," he said.
Most companies stick to temperature checks, he added, which can be done in a number of ways depending on the client's needs. Some of the more high-tech methods of measuring someone's temperature have been unreliable, according to Pollack.
"We've made a lot of really bad investments and mistakes on some of these very expensive thermal imaging cameras," he said.
Other public experts have urged companies to think carefully before investing in expensive screening equipment, whether it's a thermal camera or a contact-tracing app. Indeed, ParaDocs developed a screening app of its own that hasn't sold, because most companies are sticking to paper-based questionnaires.
"We leave everything up to the client," he said. "We can say what best practices are, but at the end of the day, we're not controlling entrances. We're not security. Someone says we want to let everyone with 100.5 temperature, that's not our issue."
Losing big event business was still a heavy-hit for ParaDocs, despite their ability to quickly adapt to the coronavirus. What's keeping the company going now, Pollack said, is that screening services have low overhead and are needed all over the country.
"We have over a hundred people working at different sites," he said. "It's not costing us a lot of money and equipment. There's not a lot of supervision needed. So I'm super grateful we're in this position."