Many organizations have explored how our oral health workforce can be more responsive to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With the Surgeon General and the American Dental Association recommending dental clinicians postpone all non-essential procedures, the oral health workforce has the opportunity to shift resources and energy toward supporting patient care.
As our health system encounters increased strain to meet the needs of patients, encouraging ways to better incorporate our dental health professionals will not only decrease economic decline but alleviate some of the workforce burden.
During a recent NNOHA webinar on clinical response to COVID-19, Dr. Renée Joskow shared historical resources supporting the incorporation of dental clinicians to expand the provision of care as qualified health providers during times of health crises. For example: the Kentucky Primary Care Association provided guidance to all FQHC CEOs in Kentucky for ways to use dental clinicians while we shift workforce efforts in response to COVID-19.
Suggestions to consider:
- Keep your dentist and a dental assistant in clinic to handle dental emergencies.
- Utilize your dental hygienist as an expert in infection control to act as a consultant to your medical director to come up with protocols and trainings for medical staff.
- Utilize your dental assistants to help your pharmacy provide curbside to-go service by taking medicines to patients sitting in their cars outside your clinic, or even to deliver to the homes of patients with the highest risk factors.
- Utilize dental staff to supplement your current housekeeping staff by increasing the number of times each day that doorknobs and waiting room surfaces are cleaned.
- If needed, utilize your dental operatories as isolation rooms and keep dental staff on hand to manage and clean those operatories.
Additional suggestions gleaned from the dental public health community to consider as health care needs increase:
- Training dental clinicians to conduct testing.
- Training dental clinicians to perform intakes and basic triage.
How has your organization shifted workforce needs to accommodate the growing needs of treating COVID-19? Let us know in the comments.
Post authored by:
Annaliese Cothron | Executive Director
The American Institute of Dental Public Health