Greetings to my colleagues and fellow members of the New York State Dental Association.
Unfortunately, as I write this, we find ourselves in a unique situation. The Novel Coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19, has affected many people, businesses and, it goes without saying, dental practices. There is a lot of confusion about what to do. Please remember that your New York State Dental Association is completely on top of this issue, and you can find the latest and most in-depth updates about COVID-19 on its website, nysdental.org/covid19.
That said, based on recommendations and guidance from the CDC, NYSDA is advising dental practices to limit patient treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is recommended that dentists voluntarily suspend nonessential or non-urgent dental care for 21 days beginning March 16, 2020.
What does this mean? From now until after this pandemic has peaked, your office should be on emergency-only status. The goal is to preserve Personal Protective Equipment (masks and gloves) and protect our patients and staff from the Coronavirus. NO CLEANINGS OR PROPHIES should be performed on patients who do not have an emergent periodontal problem. DO NOT start any crowns, fillings, etc., unless it is the only way to relieve pain. DO NOT treat orthodontic cases unless it is an emergency. DO NOT do any cosmetic procedures. DO NOT treat patients in high-risk categories. Period.
Why limit your dental practice to emergencies? In short, to help “flatten the curve” and ensure the continued health of your patients, your staff and yourself. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a strain on all health care facilities and resources locally and nationally due to the increasing number of affected individuals. Service to the public is the primary obligation of the dentist as a professional, and limiting your practice will meet that obligation.
What do I tell my staff? We suggest the following: “In order to ensure the continued health of our patients, we are suspending nonessential or non-urgent dental care for 21 days, beginning March 16, 2020. The health and welfare of our patients and our staff is the utmost priority and we want to do our part to limit the spread of the coronavirus, to reduce patient hospitalizations, and lessen the strain on resources needed to treat patients. I value your assistance in making this a smooth transition. I appreciate your commitment to working together to get through this difficult time.”
I appreciate the fact that many of you have already stepped up and placed your practices in “emergency-only” mode. Thank you. I realize this situation will have a financial impact on us all, but as health care practitioners, we need to do what is right for the public we serve --- as we have always done.
Due to this health care crisis, all of us are enduring major upsets in both our professional and personal lives. I share your pain, and your frustration. But I know that we will come out of this stronger, and together. I appreciate what you are doing to keep yourself, your staff, and your patients healthy. I look forward to being able to communicate to you very soon that this crisis has passed. In the meantime, please go to nysdental.org/covid19 for regular and timely updates on the situation.
Payam Goudarzi, DDS