Today, we are nearly 120 days into a pandemic that has upended the world in ways that did not seem fathomable just a few months ago. While this time has been filled with uncertainty and challenges, our dental community continues to demonstrate resilience and commitment as we stabilize and move forward.
CDA has existed for 150 years, at times experiencing enormous growth and development, at times enduring extraordinary obstacles and crises, and always adapting to many changes within the profession. All the while, the association has remained devoted to its mission to support members of organized dentistry in their practice and service to the public.
Like all organizations, CDA responded and evolved in the last several months to not only adapt operations, but to ensure strength and commitment to our mission. That response plan included rapidly shifting to address the most important needs of members, reconsidering meetings and in-person events and making financial adjustments that preserve CDA’s core programs and service to members.
Following is a summary of the changes CDA has made so far in response to the pandemic:
Shifting focus to members’ greatest needs
At the outset of the pandemic impact, CDA quickly aligned advocacy efforts to focus on the emergent needs of dentists, including the need for clear infection and safety protocols and guidance for dental settings, adequate PPE, support from third-party payers and ensuring licensure for the state’s graduating dental students.
In April, CDA created two volunteer leadership workgroups to support members in clinical care and economic recovery. To help facilitate a safe, compliant return to practice, the workgroups developed a comprehensive suite of resources to guide dentists and dental teams back to work through extensive training, resources, tools and information.
CDA Practice Support has provided members with widely communicated and individual guidance on changing protocols, directives and employment practices.
Pandemic response education was offered online by CDA, The Dentists Insurance Company and The Dentists Supply Company to help members and their teams obtain the information, training and required C.E. credits they need.
Virtual Membership Meetings were established to connect with organization leaders and provide members with timely information and guidance in a clear and transparent way.
As news and information began to change daily, CDA swiftly moved to a digital-first communications strategy to provide members with the most up-to-date, accurate information.
To help ease the financial burdens of policyholders, The Dentists Insurance Company extended the grace period of insurance premiums, waived fees for transactions and Risk Management courses, and refunded more than $5 million in Professional Liability and Workers’ Compensation premiums to policyholders given the reduction in care during the state’s emergency and urgent care directives and disruptions in access to PPE.
The Dentists Supply Company prioritized the sourcing of authentic masks and supplies during a massive global supply chain shortage and distributed PPE from the state’s emergency supply to dentists.
The environmental limitations of the pandemic have resulted in the cancellation of our most celebrated in-person events planned for 2020: CDA’s biannual education convention, CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry, and CDA Cares, which was set to take place in July.
While the cancellations were disappointing for members and the greater dental community, CDA is diligently working to ensure members have access to the value that the conventions offer, including building a rich, virtual event for the fall that will include a full roster of C.E. courses, exhibitor engagement and opportunities to connect with peers.
Responding to financial impact
Like most businesses and industries, CDA was not immune to the economic effects of the pandemic. To protect and preserve the core programs of advocacy, practice support, education, insurance and communication, CDA conducted a disciplined and thorough financial evaluation to find opportunities for expense reduction to offset losses sustained from the pandemic’s impact without raising member dues.
Most of the targeted expense cuts involve internal operational budgets. However, there was also a need to evaluate the budgets for member programs, which resulted in the discontinuation of the Peer Review program.
Several budget reductions were made to areas of internal governance. To reduce costs and to align with public health guidance, CDA will maintain virtual governance meetings for the remainder of the year and into 2021, including the 2020 and 2021 House of Delegates and virtual attendance at the ADA House of Delegates. Additionally, all staff and volunteer travel has been suspended for the remainder of 2020 and some of 2021.
Budgets for the Council on Membership and Judicial Council were also eliminated, but their duties and responsibilities will be handled by the board of trustees. The CDA Foundation also reduced its future scope of work following the indefinite cancellation of the volunteer dental clinic CDA Cares, which also resulted in budget conservation.
As a result of the work of a strong and courageous board of trustees, the adjustments were made with great thought and consideration of the member experience. The decisions were based on a set of guiding principles:
- Maintain core services, prioritizing programs with the greatest benefits for the most members.
- Recognize dues value and cost sensitivity.
- Safeguard investments in and financial security for the future.
- Advocate for members, their patients and the public.
- Streamline overhead and governance.
The plan forward is deliberate, strategic and well-informed and supports the reimagination and reformation of benefits and services that will serve the greatest number of members in a dynamic and uncharted future.
At the heart of these changes is a shared commitment to protect the core programs of CDA membership: advocacy for the issues that impact dentistry and patient care, education that helps dental teams and advances the profession, protection for dentists and their practices, and resources and expert one-on-one advice that support dentists in all facets of their practice. While much has changed in the first half of this year, that commitment has not.
As you know, CDA just commemorated its 150th anniversary, which was a well-timed reminder of our collective strength. Thank you for your continued support and feedback and for joining us in looking ahead to what’s next.