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COVID-19 and Best Practices for the Dental Team

Webinar and FAQs

March 23, 2020 7643

CDA's recent webinar, "COVID-19 and Best Practices for the Dental Team," addresses some of the most frequently asked questions posed by CDA members related to managing their dental team as the result of COVID-19 practice interruptions. The recording is available online if you missed it. Following the recording, CDA compiled responses to the most frequently asked questions during and after the event. 

 

CDA's recent webinar, "COVID-19 and Best Practices for the Dental Team," addresses some of the most frequently asked questions posed by CDA members related to managing their dental team as the result of COVID-19 practice interruptions. The presenter, Ali Oromchian, Esq, is one of the nation’s leading dental lawyers. This live event was recorded Friday, March 20, with over 2,100 participants. 

View recording

CDA received over 700 questions from member dentists and dental team prior to and during the webinar. After review of the submitted questions, and given the unique elements for each dental practice due to varying practice policies, CDA is providing responses to those questions which are more universally applicable:

1. What constitutes an “emergency procedure” that would require my treatment of a patient?

Answer: As healthcare providers, dentists understand their patients’ conditions and use their professional judgment to diagnose a true dental emergency and determine if it is appropriate to treat with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). If left untreated, some dental infections can lead to life-threatening conditions. Dental emergencies should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the appropriate and necessary timing of in-person treatment.

2. What PPE is required for the treatment of emergencies?

Answer: Protocols require first screening all patients for fever, respiratory symptoms or potential COVID-19 exposure, collecting information on presenting complaint and then deciding appropriate treatment and place of treatment based on these findings. Individuals with active or suspected COVID-19 infection should not enter a dental office without wearing a face mask and cannot be treated with aerosol producing procedures in a dental office. Patients with active COVID-19 should be referred to their healthcare provider or other medical care facility in their community for evaluation.

Further, because COVID-19 is transmitted through aerosols, and some patients presenting without known risks may still be carrying the virus, prevailing guidance is to use N95 masks for any aerosol-producing procedures. Additionally, dentists are encouraged to prioritize dental treatment that avoids aerosol production and should implement additional recommendations to reduce aerosols, including using rubber dams, high-speed suction and a room with a closed door.

CDA anticipates this guidance will continue to be refined and we will update members on these issues on cda.org as more information becomes available.

3. What are my options for ensuring the financial health of my practice?

Answer: We’ve included additional information on CDA’s advocacy in this area in the response to Question 7. Given this uncharted territory, Thomas Doll, a CPA firm committed to meeting the financial needs of dental professionals, offers the following recommendations to dentists:

  • Each dentist should have a line of credit. A line of credit (LOC) is designated by one’s banker to be used in difficult financial times. Now is the time to make sure your LOC is in place. Many banks are working to streamline processes for establishing or accessing LOCs. Bank of America, CDA’s endorsed vendor for practice transitions and equipment loans, is offering deferments on credit card payments, loan payments and reduced monthly fees on a case-by-case basis.
  • Dentists should contact their lenders about available hardship programs.
  • Some lenders may defer business loan payments for some months.
  • Both the state and federal deadlines to submit 2019 taxes have officially been moved to July 15, 2020. The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special payment and filing relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible.
  • The US Small Business Administration (SBA) will work with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Visit the SBA’s website for more info: gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

4. What type of unemployment benefits am I eligible to receive as an owner?

Answer: It depends on multiple factors, including whether you are paid as an employee of your corporation. If you are an employee, you may be eligible for unemployment.

5. What are the eligibility criteria for an employee to file for unemployment or other state benefits? If they are employed part-time, are they eligible?

Answer: In addition to any paid sick leave or vacation benefits available to employees, California has expanded its paid family leave and disability benefits to workers affected by the COVID-19 virus. Unemployment benefits may be available for those who have had their hours cut or eliminated due to an office closure.

Wage replacement may be available to those who are certified by a medical professional to be sick with COVID-19, are caring for a family member who is certified by a medical professional to be sick with COVID-19 or are experiencing a reduction in work hours due to office closure.

More information is available at: edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

6. What is my obligation to pay sick leave while the office is closed?

Answer: It is the employee’s decision to use paid sick leave while the office is closed. If the employee decides to use paid sick leave, the employer can require they take a minimum of two hours of paid sick leave. The determination of how much paid sick leave will be used is up to the employee. Employers can visit the Department of Industrial Relations’ California Paid Sick Leave: Frequently Asked Questions at dir.ca.gov/DLSE/Paid_Sick_Leave.htm

If an employee does not qualify to use paid sick leave or has exhausted sick leave, other leave may be available (see question above regarding unemployment benefits that may available through the state). If there is a vacation or paid time-off policy, an employee may choose to take such leave and be compensated provided that the terms of the vacation or paid time-off policy allows for leave in this circumstance. Employers should review their current policies and discuss with employees.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act, also referred to H.R. 6201, is set to take effect on April 2nd. This federal legislation authorizes paid leave, food assistance and tax credits to individuals in the U.S. affected by the novel coronavirus. Health care providers, which may include dentists, and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from the new provision. Details on the exemption for dentists are forthcoming.

7. What relief can CDA or TDIC offer to my financial situation?

Answer: Both CDA and TDIC understand the economic challenges dentists are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDA continues to monitor and engage on several quickly evolving efforts at the federal and state levels to help alleviate the challenges facing small business owners and their employees. CDA will be advocating for long-term, no-interest business continuity loans, as well as advocating to ensure dental benefit companies provide relief and financial support to keep their provider networks healthy, vibrant and available to patients.

The State Treasurer has compiled a list of resources available to small business owners available at bit.ly/2WC5XYV. Practice owners are also encouraged to check with their city and/or county to identify local business relief programs.


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