As you all are aware, the concern for the COVID-19 pandemic has been growing in the United States and Florida. We, as healthcare providers, have a duty and an obligation to ensure that our patients receive exemplary dental care, but also ensure their overall well-being is considered paramount.
In an effort to ensure the safety of our patients I have voluntarily closed my office for three weeks for elective dental treatment. I implore you to do the same. This decision is in accord with recommendations made by the US Surgeon General and the American Dental Association. It is my understanding that social distancing has been recognized as a critical way to slow the spread of COVID-19. By postponing elective dental procedures, we will be reducing the number of people in our waiting rooms and treatment rooms, therefore protecting our patients and team members from potential exposure. We also need to ensure we have the appropriate staffing and resources to care for patients that are undergoing true dental emergencies.
What is elective versus non-elective should be on a case-by-case basis and should be determined by you, the clinician, which procedures are safest to delay, and which should proceed as scheduled. At this time no specific guidelines have been provided by the ADA or the FDA and more importantly the Florida Department of Health, however I urge you to use your best judgment and attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
I encourage you to explain to your patients that this decision was made for their safety, as well as that of your other patients and team members.
I, as a solo practitioner, am acutely aware of the financial implications this will have on your practices. I know that many of us are small business owners and this situation will have a deep impact on our livelihoods and the livelihoods of our team members. It is my understanding that the ADA is working diligently to develop an economic relief program for small business owners. I am also cautiously optimistic that the Coronavirus bill currently in the US senate will provide some economic relief to assist your practice.
Lastly the state of Florida Disaster Loan Program is offering up to a $50k interest free loan to those small businesses that can show economic hardship associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. The Northeast District Dental Association will do our best to provide you with up-to-date information regarding any assistance programs that become available.
We must consider the overall health of our community and take every opportunity we can to ensure its safety.
Please call my cell if you have any questions.
CJ Henley, DMD