How a New York dental practice avoided shutdown amid a COVID-19 surge

A New York dentist explained how his practice remained open for emergency services even when other practices had to shut down amid a statewide COVID-19 surge, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

From mid-March to the start of June, the Rochester, N.Y.-based Howitt Urgent Dental Care clinic at UR Medicine's Eastman Institute for Oral Health treated 5,000 patients from 48 counties.

Yanfang Ren, DDS, PhD, told the Democrat and Chronicle how his team responded to the pandemic.

Five notes:

1. A native of China, Dr. Ren said he paid attention to the pandemic early on. He stopped elective care March 16, right before the first known Rochester virus case was reported.

2. Asymptomatic spread was a main concern, so Dr. Ren put portable air cleaners in the treatment rooms.

3. The dentist needed more personal protective equipment, which was in short supply. "Dentists were not on anyone's priority lists," Dr. Ren said. However, his practice had international connections, and seven different universities in China sent them N95 masks, protective goggles, face shields, isolation gowns and thermometers.

4. The practice organized an international forum in April and more than 3,000 dentists signed up. The forum considered potential strategies to better protect dentists and patients.

5. To avoid unintentionally bringing the virus home, Dr. Ren showers immediately after work every day. He rinses his mouth with hydrogen peroxide, cleans his nose with povidone iodine and changes into new clothes before interacting with his family.

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