I am writing this in the last few days of April. Like many of you, I have closed my practice, temporarily terminated my employees, and am doing my best to safely treat and triage my emergency patients. I have been frustrated trying to decipher the EIDL and PPP. I’ve asked for deferrals on loans and bills. I have had a patient berate me over the phone for not deeming their mild and occasional cold sensitivity to be enough of an emergency that I would treat it in the office.
I am doing my part to flatten the curve and keep my community safe. I am wondering when I’ll be able to get back to work.
Some states are already allowing dentists to work in a limited capacity. New York, where I practice, is currently projecting reopening in mid-May, though none of my fellow New Yorkers will be shocked if that date gets pushed back to June. No one is practicing at full capacity. No dental office is able to work with the efficiency it enjoyed only a few months ago. That leaves us practice owners with genuine concerns about being able to keep our businesses solvent and our patients healthy and happy.
But this is not the first storm our profession has had to weather. I’ve had the opportunity to look at issues of Dental Economics that date as far back as 1911, so believe me when I tell you this is far from the first crisis that has threatened us. Our predecessors faced world wars, global financial meltdowns, and pandemics. Each menace brought doomsayers—colleagues who let their worst fears get a hold of them and who wrote to Dental Economics about the end of the profession. And each menace also brought visionaries—colleagues who saw past the challenges and started putting together plans of action.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an issue for visionaries.
I can’t say when our practices will be able to return to normal. But what is “normal” anyway? Before the AIDS crisis of the 1980s it wasn’t normal for dentists to routinely wear masks and gloves. Now it’s not only normal, but it’s mandated by regulatory agencies such as the CDC and OSHA. While we are still in the midst of this new crisis, Dental Economics will bring the visionaries to you. We’ll get you the best available information to accelerate your recovery.
We’re all in this together.
Cheers, and stay safe!
Chris Salierno, DDS