Dear members of the OCDS,
Over the last few weeks we have received many emails from our members worried about when they can get back to their offices to provide non-emergency services. Including myself, we are all frustrated at this virus. But we are trying our best at our component level and at the state level.
Please be aware, the authority to resume services lies with the Department of Public Health and they are the authority under the governor who issued the Stay-at-Home order and they are the ones to lift it also. They in turn are guided by CDC and OSHA. Even though we are all aware of standard precautions and infection control guidelines, those rules are not enough for this COVID-19 infection; the main difference being HIV, Hep-B and Hep-C are bodily fluid transmission and COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. OSHA has placed dentists in the very high risk exposure category for contracting COVID during aerosol generating procedures.
As the rate of transmission is coming down, I had asked our executive Director, Ms. Megan Francis, to find out from the local Orange County Health Care Agency about their authority to let dental practices within Orange County start going back to their offices. Unfortunately, they told her the County doesn't have the authority and the state CDPH is the true authority.
Neither CDA nor OCDS and for that matter even the Dental Board has the authority to lift the current restrictions on dental practice. The best we as an association can do is to influence the state authority, which we have been doing at the same time looking at the safety of the providers, staff, patients, family and the public.
I have personally communicated our members’ concern to our current CDA President, Dr. Richard Nagy, about speeding up the process of reopening dental offices for non-emergency procedures. I also spoke to TDIC CEO Dr. Bob Spinelli, pleading for TDIC to give a break on the premiums; especially the young dentists, who are just starting out and have school loans to worry about. Thanks to TDIC, who decided to reduce the premiums of the Liability and Workman Comp Insurance.
The governor has appointed a task force representing different industries and three former governors, including Dr. Natasha Lee, our former CDA President, who is efficient and very knowledgeable about every day dental practice.
Our trustees, Dr. Bijan Mojtihadi and Dr. Nick Caplanis, are also working with CDA to safeguard the interest of CDA members.
I am in constant touch with Dr. Jayanth Kumar, our state Dental Director, and they are working on guidelines to expand services and those will be detailed next week. He is listening to all our plight and is developing a plan on how to safely expand dental procedures in phases, that can be done in our offices, while taking into consideration the data about transmission that is specific to each county.
He wrote as follows:
"We are working on updating the CDPH guidance document to allow more dental services. In the meantime, I am urging dentists to update their Injury and Illness Prevention Plan. This attached CDC guidance was released on April 27th and has a section on Provision of Emergency Care to Patients Without COVID-19 in a Dental Clinic During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
According to CDC, if the patient is afebrile (temperature < 100.4˚F) and otherwise without symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then emergency dental care may be provided using appropriate engineering controls, work practices, and infection control practices."
I am enclosing the latest CDC guidelines which has a section that is specific to Dentistry.
We are all in it together and please be patient, "this too shall pass".
Thanking you and sincerely,
Dr. Ramesh Gowda