This is an extraordinary time. We know that our members and the patients you serve are trying to make sense of this evolving situation. Yet despite the confusion and anxiety, something remarkable is happening. We are learning from one another and supporting one another. We are trying hard to keep our community intact, even when our gestures may seem inadequate.
I hope you have been reading our recent COVID-19 Updates. These are important because the information changes so quickly. As we noted yesterday, what is accurate in the morning may be inaccurate by the afternoon, or the following morning. We will do our best to keep you updated with the changing landscape.
On March 17, by
Order of the SF Health Officer
, health care providers (including dentists), are ordered to cancel, postpone or reschedule all routine appointments.
At the same time, as health care professionals,
dentists and our essential staff are exempt from the Shelter in Place order
. Why is this important? Because we need to be taking care of dental emergencies so that dental patients do not end up at hospital emergency rooms. We need to do our part to ensure that our medical colleagues in the hospital environment can focus on more pressing medical emergencies and COVID-19 cases. Let’s do our part.
The Society has received many calls regarding what services to provide, what constitutes
. Both the
have developed and communicated guidelines to assist our members, which I will summarize here for your further review if you did not receive those communications:
- A patient is in pain.
- Infection is present.
- Non-treatment would severely inhibit normal operation of a patient’s teeth and mouth or negatively impact their health in the next three to six months. Dentists have the jurisdiction to use their professional judgment on treatments that meet the latter requirement.
- Patients who have received recent treatment requiring the removal of sutures would also be considered appropriate for treatment.
: Initial or periodic oral examinations and recall visits, including routine radiographs; Routine dental cleaning and preventive therapies; Orthodontic procedures other than those to address acute issues (e.g. pain, infection, trauma).
The San Francisco Dental Society, and the tripartite (SFDS, CDA, ADA), are not government or regulatory agencies. As such, we do not have the jurisdiction to mandate your actions. That decision lies with the mayor, the governor, and with our health departments. We can, however, provide recommendations and serve as a conduit to distribute news and resources once we receive information from the entities with the authority to direct actions, which we have attempted to do in today’s Update.
We’ve received inquiries regarding specific San Francisco employment and business resources available for your practices and your valued staff. We have shared some of that information with you already and are including additional resources:
- San Francisco is now offering a Small Business Resiliency Fund to provide support to get you through this difficult time. Check if you are eligible to apply here: oewd.org/covid-19-small-business-resiliency-fund.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering San Francisco-based businesses low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. Businesses can apply online by visiting disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
- San Francisco’s new Covid-19 Information/Resources site: https://sf.gov/topics/coronavirus-covid-19.
- For information about laying off employees/unemployment, CDA notes: employers are not required to lay off or terminate employees they intend to continue to employ. Partial unemployment claims are available for employees whose employers want to keep them though there is a lack of work. The employer certifies that the employee is expected to return to work and gives them a form to file (DE 2063) for an unemployment insurance claim. More information is available from the EDD. Also see the Completion instructions for Notice of Reduced Earnings, DE 2063.
Please rest assured that the SFDS is working closely with the CDA and ADA to get you, our member dentists, the information that you need to make informed decisions regarding your offices.
We’ll get through this difficult time, together.