April 16, 2020
Dear SCDA Member:
I saw two patients with urgent needs today. It made me itch to get back to work.   I also looked over my bills. That really gave me an itch to get back to work. This waiting game is getting on everybody's nerves. It's been way too long. To use a Navy analogy, land is not in sight, but we've crossed the deepest waters. When is the search and rescue helicopter going to locate us?
What is the ADA doing for me? The ADA wants us all to be back at work as soon and as safely as reasonably possible. With this in mind, the ADA President Dr. Chad Gehani, set up a Task Force to look at dental practice recovery issues for the near future. This task force is comprised of practicing dentists who have access to all of the ADA experts in science, law, regulations, etc. For practice in near future, we can expect guidance and recommendations which will allow us to get back to work as long as we combine this new guidance with our best clinical and professional judgement for our practice settings. What will the standard PPE be for a restorative or hygiene procedures? I expect we will hear from this task force within the next week regarding these guidelines.  
Further down the road we can expect additional guidance regarding COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and ongoing research on this subject of practicing with the risk of new viruses. Will we be testing patients for coronavirus antibody in our office?   Will there be improved high evacuation suction systems recommended? We won't have all the answers before we go back to work.
The ADA continues to advocate for additional dollars to be put in PPP loan fund as well as giving dentists more control of the 8 week time period where they can use their PPP loan and qualify for loan forgiveness. I have heard of a couple dentists who have received the EIDL grant. One friend who received the EIDL grant had an application number close to 500. My number is closer to 200,000. I'm still waiting.
What is the SCDA doing for me? While we are watching for changes in the wind, we are working on ways to provide our members with continuing education online. The SCDA has planned a webinar for tomorrow, April 17th, in conjunction with the ADA to share  the Top Third-Party Payer Issues. This course was originally scheduled to be live and in person, but we were able to rearrange it into an online webinar format.   If you haven't registered yet, use this link . The webinar will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST on Friday.
Since the SC Board of Dentistry has lifted its restriction on how many CE hours can be taken online this year due to the pandemic, the SCDA is organizing additional online courses to make up for some of the CE we missed when the Annual Session was cancelled.  
What can you do for yourself?  Now that we've entered the waiting phase of this challenge  to see if or when the government will come to our rescue, and when the coronavirus will begin to fade away, you may have some time on your hands.  Take an assessment of your office. Where was your weak point before the virus, what do you wish you were managing better?  Supply spending? Presence on social media? Digital photography? There is a strong webinar on the ADA website  called 'Keep the Lights On' by Wendy O'Donovan Phillips of The Big Buzz. It is full of ideas on how to stay in touch with your patients to maintain the relationships, and how to make your practice stronger in anticipation of opening the floodgates for patients to return.
What can you do for others?  Dentists are caring and giving people. If you have time, you may want to help others in need. Please consider joining the Columbia Periodontal Associates' effort to resupply the blood banks through a statewide virtual blood drive through the Red Cross. Drs. Lee Ayers, Mark McEntire and Dustin Hedgepath invite you and your entire dental team to become Dental Donor Heroes with them.  This is an opportunity for South Carolina's entire dental community to come together to help save lives. The process is safe and simple. You can obtain more information by using this link. 
I have also heard of dental offices and study clubs taking meals or coffee and donuts to medical personnel who are working with COVID patients or COVID screening. Ask some of your colleagues if they're interested in helping out.   Dentistry is an important component of the healthcare response, but we can't help as much as we'd like to. If you have an idea to share of how dentists can help the community, please let us know.
Unfortunately, one crisis does not preclude another. Our state was hit in a few areas by tornadoes this week. If anyone in the dental community suffered damage or loss from the recent tornadoes, we would like to hear from about it.  
We are getting closer to the end of this strange time in history. None of us knows exactly when but we're closer today than we were a month ago. Be ready, but be patient. Be available to your patients. They want to know you are there for them and that you will still be there when they can come back to see you. This year is going down in the record book. There are still chapters to be written. Let's get ready to write a great ending.
Stay strong,
Julia K. Mikell, DDS 
SCDA President

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