Dear SCDA Members,
We are in an unprecedented time in our history. A huge shout of appreciation for all of you who have heeded the recommendations from the SCDA and the ADA which President Trump fully supports. This letter will provide resources to begin to help with the economic effects we will be facing immediately. We will continue to consult with experts and update our resources as we receive them. We are in conversation with the Board of Dentistry, the Health Department, and the Governor's office to advocate for all dentists in South Carolina.
Since the SCDA released our recommendation on Monday, we have heard from all major State and Federal agencies concurring with the recommendation to limit our dental practices to urgent and emergency care. The ADA has defined urgent and emergency care to assist us and to find out what should be treated and when, visit
for more updates and resources related to COVID-19.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also weighed in on and released a statement Wednesday night. "Dental procedures use PPE and have one of the highest risks of transmission due to the close proximity of the healthcare provider to the patient. To reduce the risk of spread and to preserve PPE, we are recommending that all non-essential dental exams and procedures be postponed until further notice."
OSHA has also included dentistry in the highest risk category.
CMS also said that healthcare providers should "consider resources and how best to provide surgical services and procedures to those whose condition requires emergent or urgent attention to save a life, preserve organ function, and avoid further harms from underlying condition or disease. Decisions remain the responsibility of local healthcare delivery systems, including state and local health officials, and those surgeons who have direct responsibility to their patients. However, in analyzing the risk and benefit of any planned procedure, not only must the clinical situation be evaluated, but resource conservation must also be considered."
What are the consequences of disregarding this recommendation?
- The curve continues to rise; therefore, the longer it takes for this viral challenge to go away.
- The higher the spike of the disease curve the longer the recovery once we reach the peak.
- The potential for you and your team to be confined for 14 days or worse, contract the virus.
Using infection control resources that are in short supply in hospitals such as masks
Social distancing is critical to containment. The sooner we, as a profession, join together to act responsibly for the health and welfare of the citizens of South Carolina, the sooner our actions will serve as an example for the public, and our profession can remain highly regarded as responsible doctors.
In addition, the SCDA has been monitoring all news across the country and
of you may have questions about the stimulus packages coming down from Washington. Those are still be reviewed and waivers sought to bring the best relief to dental practices. You can do your part by
to urge your Senators and Congressman to vote in favor.
Lastly, the SCDA realizes that many of you
are facing the difficult decision of how to take care of your employees and hold on to your businesses through this situation. We have some resources for you and will continue to update them. Currently we have retained an employment lawyer, Ms Kris Cato, to answer member's questions. Over 50 members have already contacted her this week and received help. We have posted the answers to her FAQ's. We will continue to add to this list as Ms Cato updates us.
There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty and fear that goes along with COVID-19 in general and specifically with the recommendation to limit our procedures. The questions are out there.
- How will my employees be able to afford living without a paycheck?
- Am I being selfish or irresponsible not to look out for them?
- How will I be able to afford to pay my ongoing expenses and have a business to return to if this situation goes on for a long time?
- How can I ask my employees to go on unemployment especially when I don't know how that is going to work yet?
- How long will this last?
I share your concerns, but based on the current evidence and the projections of this disease, we cannot wait for administrative bureaucracy to get all the details pinned down for unemployment benefits and business expense relief before we decide to act. The actions of the Federal government on Thursday show promise that we will be cared for in this very strange
Reluctantly, many of us will be asking
our employees to file for unemployment benefits. The South Carolina Department of Employee and Workforce (SCDEW) has put together some very good information on their
. The state unemployment policies have been modified to help employees due to the Covid-19 crisis.
In addition, South Carolina has mandated that businesses affected by the virus will not be penalized if they reduce hours or layoff staff. The only way your rate will not increase will be if you, the employer, files for the unemployment for your employees. Again, the employer, NOT the employee should file for the unemployment.
The SCDEW has made this easy. Click here for the step by step instructions of how to navigate the system. Click here to begin the process.
You will need your 4th qtr 2019 DEW filing to get registered. The system is backlogged and not responding well as of Friday morning. It will take patience which is somewhere with toilet paper these days (in short supply).
In the coming days the SCDA will continue to work to address and mitigate the impact this period of isolation, stress, and lack of productive work will have on our members and their families. We will identify resources to face the mental, physical and financial challenges that are caused by this virus even if most of us will hopefully never get sick. But first we need to have full cooperation from our membership to commit to social distancing along with everyone else.
Thank you for giving this your fullest consideration. I apologize for this long letter, but we are trying to give you as much information as we have to help you through the next few days. Please remember to take the best care of yourself so that you can help others who rely on you.
Julia K. Mikell, DDS
SCDA Interim President