The Challenges We Face

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

In my copy of the Fayetteville Observer dated June 1, 2020, an article written by staff writer, Michael Fitch was titled, “Some Medical Practices Charging Extra PPE Fee”.  The following day, NBC News published an article on the internet about the same subject only citing the national scope of adding an additional fee for PPE onto our patients.  As you visit our practice, I know that you will notice the drastic changes that have been incorporated into our treatment system.  We have been intently watching the scientific recommendations during the last three months and the fallout they have created. We gather information from many sources and have put together a plan where we now feel comfortable with and will be opening back up our office albeit with amended protocols.  These protocols respect social distancing and take into consideration the challenges that COVID-19 present.  It will be a new paradigm, but your health and safety have always been at the forefront of our decision making.

But the reality of this new paradigm will be that we will have to see fewer patients with greater spacing and more time to deal with all the protocols associated with cleanliness and disinfection. The logistics associated with arming ourselves with appropriate PPE is also a daunting financial task.  The rationale that “dentists should be doing this routinely” does not pass the reality test.

The profession of dentistry has always been at risk for the potential for infectious spread and therefore has always been focused on mitigated of minimizing this risk. Uniform precautions have always been built into our practice philosophy.  My contention has always been that going to the dentist, even during the current pandemic, is a safer calculated risk than most people undertake in leaving their houses each and every day as they perform daily tasks.

I could enumerate all the changes that are happening at Spring Lake Dental Group because they are many and varied. But I hope that the confidence that you have always placed in me and in the staff at Spring Lake Dental Group will not be assuaged as you are asked to meet our requirements to safely and effectively provide your care.

We have only a slight clue as to whether your insurance plans will assist you in picking up this ten dollar fee for providing protective gear.  United Concordia seems receptive but most other insurance plans will not lay their cards on the table.  But my hope as you view these changes in our treatment of you and your family, is that you see it through the perspective of continuing to provide optimal care and safety to you as we navigate through this crisis.

I do not profess to know what the future holds, but I want to assure you that decisions are being made with your health and safety as paramount.