"From top to bottom, organized dentistry has worked together for its members during this pandemic. If you have ever questioned the value of your association dues, this year should have proven to all dentists that it’s money well spent."
Dr. Stephen J. Lee
WSDA News Editorial Advisory Board
During the pandemic, I have gained a greater appreciation for the “organizing” part of organized dentistry. All three levels of our Tripartite system have functioned as a team and in doing so have improved my ability to safely deliver care at my practice. WSDA, ADA and local dental societies across Washington should be proud of their accomplishments.
At a local level, the Snohomish County Dental Society procured thousands of face shields made by the nearby Fluke Corporation. To distribute the face shields across the county, hundreds of boxes were sent to several dentists in Snohomish County who were willing to store and distribute face shields to dentists in their area. This coordinated effort could not have happened without the leadership of the Snohomish County Dental Society and the willingness of over a dozen volunteer dentists to store huge boxes at their offices for pickup and, in some cases, even deliver them to their nearby colleagues.
Moving to a larger scale, our WSDA leadership worked tirelessly to promote a safe reopening of dental offices here in Washington. Without WSDA’s advocacy in Olympia, there’s no telling how long our offices may have been shut down and what impossible requirements may have been asked of us upon reopening. We may have been shut down longer, forced to buy unproven “safety” equipment, or worse, not have been permitted to even see emergencies, which would have put more people in the emergency room and made this pandemic even more of a mess. As of this writing, no dental offices have been sources of COVID-19 outbreaks, so our efforts to promote reopening were well-founded.
Decision-makers in Olympia respect and listen to WSDA as a voice for oral health. While we don’t get our way on every issue, WSDA’s presence gives dentists an important seat at the table. This may have been the most important time in our careers to have a respected voice in Olympia.
WSDA also worked together with Delta Dental of Washington and the ADA to procure much needed masks. Let this be a lesson that while you may have differences with others, you never know when you might be put in a situation to help one another out. We all want to get back to work safely and help from all players in the dental system makes a difference.
Of course, our biggest advocate through the pandemic has been the American Dental Association. At over 163,000 members strong and boasting a nine-figure budget, ADA has been a strong voice in D.C.
Dentists in my neighborhood and around the country have been rescued by the ADA’s advocacy efforts. I received a PPP loan and appreciate the ADA’s effort to push the extension of the loan to 24 weeks, so I could more effectively use it. More recently, the ADA successfully advocated in D.C. for expansion of the Provider Relief Fund to include dentistry, which I was also able to use in my practice. Furthermore, the various operational guides, like the Return to Work Toolkit, have helped answer many questions that my staff and I had about safe reopening.
Not only do organized dentistry’s efforts matter on Capitol Hill, but also in the executive branch. It speaks volumes to the strength of our Association that the Surgeon General speaks directly with the ADA President. This open line of communication allows for better, more informed decisions to be made at the highest levels.
From top to bottom, organized dentistry has worked together for its members during this pandemic. If you have ever questioned the value of your association dues, this year should have proven to all dentists that it’s money well spent.
This editorial originally appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of WSDA News.
The views expressed in all WSDA publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions or policies of the WSDA.