The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program is rolling out across the country. According to the December 14 survey conducted by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute, 84% of dentists felt that it was either “extremely important” or “very important” for dental providers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This was especially evident among older dentists, specialists, and dentists in large group practices. The vast majority of respondents also noted that their practice is not currently offering rapid response COVID-19 testing. Complete results of the survey can be found here.
As recommended by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, phase 1a of the program prioritizes healthcare workers, including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants. With vaccine administration being managed at the state level, there is some variation among states on exactly where dentists fit in compared to other healthcare workers. For that reason, the ADA has developed a helpful state-by-state map where individuals can see how dental providers are being prioritized. In the vast majority of states, dentists are listed as part of phase 1a, while a few states have them in phase 1b, and others have yet to determine their priority level. States also vary on whether or not a dental provider can administer the vaccine to others at this time.
In accordance with state prioritization guidelines, many of our providers and team members have already received their first COVID-19 vaccination. Not only will vaccinations keep our team members safe, but it will ensure that patients who come into our practices remain safe as well. As each of us awaits our turn to be vaccinated, we are making sure that our dental offices remain as safe as ever. We will continue to implement extra safety measures, as recommended by the ADA and CDC, in addition to the infection control procedures we have always followed. Our highest priority is the well-being of each person that walks through our doors. To learn more about MDP’s safety protocols, please click here.
Our own Bill Becknell has been selected as a “Most Admired CEO” by Louisville Business First. Read Bill’s full profile, including his leadership “recipe” for success, the biggest turning point in his career and how he has motivated team members during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo credit: Louisville Business First)
In their interim guidance dated August 3, 2020, the World Health Organization advised that oral care deemed “routine” or “non-urgent” be delayed until COVID-19 transmissions are significantly reduced. While the ADA strongly disagreed with this recommendation, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country has left many in the industry wondering whether governmental mandates delaying routine dental care will be put in place once again.
A mandate that delays “non-essential” dental care suggests that the dental practice could be fertile ground for COVID-19 transmission. However, the facts speak otherwise. Since the pandemic began, MDP has served hundreds of thousands of patients with no suspected patient-to-team or team-to-patient COVID-19 transmissions in any of our practices. While we have always implemented standard safety protocols, throughout the pandemic we have exercised additional levels of precaution as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include increased personal protective equipment for both clinical and non-clinical team members, screening of patients and team members for COVID-19 symptoms, disinfecting and sterilizing surfaces more frequently, and limiting seating in our welcome areas. More details about our safety protocols are found here.
Moreover, delaying dentistry deemed “non-essential” also suggests that this type of care is not as important to a patient’s health and well-being. During the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, this type of care included the treatment of periodontal disease, dental caries, and various other viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. An oral problem that may seem non-essential, such as a cavity, can grow to a much more severe problem if not treated early, leading to more complicated and expensive procedures down the road. Additionally, as these conditions escalate, patients turn to emergency rooms for treatment during a period of time when the healthcare system needs to be focused on caring for COVID-19 patients.
Delaying treatment for many oral conditions can be severely detrimental to a patient’s overall health. For example, “routine” dental care that was suspended earlier in the year also included screening for oral cancer and oral manifestations of other systemic diseases. The Osteopathic Family Physician provides a list of diseases with oral manifestations (see Table 1, page 21). These diseases may initially present in the oral cavity, but are connected to the overall systemic health of our patients. Some emerging research even suggests a link between gingival disease and COVID-19 mortality.
Early detection of many oral diseases can often be a matter of life and death. As ADA President Chad P. Gehani, D.D.S. so correctly declared, “Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.” Dentistry should never be deemed non-essential.
Our own Dr. Blair Brown of Mortenson Family Dental sat down with Group Dentistry Now to discuss his experience of being a DSO doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic. Listen to the full podcast by clicking the link below!
October marks Employee Ownership Month, a time to spread awareness about the benefits of employee ownership. As an employee-owned DSO, Mortenson Dental Partners provides its team members with stock ownership options and embraces an ownership philosophy in its culture. Such a structure rewards team members by allowing them to share in the company’s success, motivating them to act as “owners” in the work they do. Being employee owned gives MDP team members a number of benefits, including:
MDP’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) is a key component of its ownership philosophy and core value of sharing abundantly. Through the ESOP, shares of the company stock are invested into a retirement account for each team member. Enrollment is automatic and does not require any action from the team member. Eligible doctors also have the option to purchase additional stock ownership in the company.
In addition to providing an ESOP, MDP offers team members the option to invest in a 401K plan. Because team members do not have to contribute any of their funds to the ESOP, they have the freedom to invest more money in their 401K if they choose to do so.
As part of its ownership philosophy, team members are encouraged to act as owners. This includes identifying areas of improvement that can result in better outcomes, such as more efficient processes, lowered costs, happier team members and, of course, satisfied patients. Moreover, doctors have the clinical autonomy to make the decisions that are in the best interest of their patients and their practice. In the end, each team member has the same goal of serving patients and contributing to MDP’s success — success that everyone will share through the ESOP.
Knowing how important team members are to its overall success, MDP makes it a priority to invest in their growth and development. Through a robust learning and development portal, all team members can take advantage of continuing education opportunities for free. Providers also have access to a customized development path that supports them from recruitment to retirement with ongoing learning and career growth.
Being employee owned is one of the most important ways that MDP is different from other DSOs. If you’re interested in joining one of the largest groups of employee-owned dental practices in the country, we’d love to hear from you! Please view our Doctor Opportunities or contact our Development team.
Industry website Becker’s Dental + DSO featured a story about the retirement of Dr. Wayne Mortenson, founder of Mortenson Dental Partner. Click to read the full story, including a wonderful message from Dr. Wayne.
Thanks to Louisville Business First for featuring a nice story about the retirement of Dr. Wayne Mortenson, founder of Mortenson Dental Partners. Business First subscribers can click to read the full story. Image credit: Louisville Business First.