SIDNEY — One must be in serious pain or have a worsening condition to be seen by a dentist during this time amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to Gov. Mike DeWine’s order for non-essential surgeries and procedures to be canceled, in an effort to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), dentists offices are closed except for emergencies.
Dr. Damen Patel, of Midwest Ohio Dental Care, said, “The only thing we can do is super emergencies. And super emergencies mean pain, swelling, infection and things like that so they don’t have to go to the ER and use up the ER resources.”
Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH, ordered for non-essential surgeries and procedures to cease as of 5 p.m. on March 18. The order described a non-essential surgery as a procedure that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient. The following criteria was provided for considering whether a procedure is non-essential:
• Threat to the patient’s life if surgery or procedure is not performed;
• Threat of permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ system;
• Risk of metastasis or progression of staging; or
• Risk of rapidly worsening to sever symptoms (time sensitive).
Dental work such as routine hygiene appointments; cosmetic or aesthetic procedures, such as veneers, teeth bleaching, or cosmetic bonding; periodontal plastic surgery; or work on crowns, bridges, or dentures that do not address or prevent pain are postponed until a future date. DeWine extended the stay-at-home order set to expire on April 6 until May 1. This order includes non-essential business.
Dr. Ben Warnock, of Sidney Family Dental Association, also known as Ever Dental Care, echoed Patel’s words and emphasized the office is open to take care of patients in pain.
“You don’t want to be at the hospital at this time,” Warnock said of people with dental issues, for safety to avoid COVID-19.
He said patients wait in their cars outside of the office until brought in one at a time.
“We have a set of questions that we are asking every patient to screen them before they would come in. And then we are also screening them to find out what is their pain level, what is going on, and what we can do to prevent them from getting worse,” Warnock said. “People have broken-down teeth that are infected. You just can’t leave those infected teeth in place. So, they need to be removed, or they need to have a root canal taken care of so they don’t end up with a more serious problem.”
Upon ordering the cancellations of non-essential procedures on March 17, DeWine also asked offices to review inventories and share any extra PPE with their local Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
Patel said most people are very understanding that some procedures have to be canceled. He and fellow doctor, Charles Edelen, who split their time between their Sidney and Piqua offices, have donated all PPE they could spare to Wilson Health.
“We got a call from Wilson hospital, and we gave them N95 masks and gloves, and everything we could spare, we gave to them,” said Patel. “And then we just kept enough to keep us going for a couple of weeks when we can open back up.”
Shelby County EMA Director Cheri Drinkwine said the EMA coordinates the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). She explained the EOC provides overall coordination and support to field operations, which in a pandemic, the Shelby County Health Department is the lead, but the EOC supports the health department, hospital, long term care (LTC) facilities and other healthcare workers.
Shelby County, Drinkwine said, has received three small shipments from the strategic national stockpile. This national stockpile is the United States’ national repository of antibiotics, vaccines, chemical antidotes, antitoxins, and other critical medical supplies.
“Because we have a limited amount on hand,” she said, “our health care and emergency workers are encouraged to conserve the best they can. There has been an outpouring of donations from the communities which are greatly appreciated. Nitrile gloves, gowns, masks, sanitizer are all items that are needed. Homemade cloth masks are another way to donate for visitors and patients at the hospital and for use at LTC and other healthcare providers. On the Wilson Health website, under coronavirus tab, at the bottom of page there are instructions and a pattern for making a mask.”
Donated PPE can be dropped off at Wilson Health and the Shelby County Health Department.
Wilson Health’s information on making masks and COVID-19 can be found on their website at https://www.wilsonhealth.org/coronavirus
The Shelby County EMA is located at 800 Fair Road, Sidney. Drinkwine can be reached at 937-492-5635, firstname.lastname@example.org . For information about the Shelby County EMA, visit http://co.shelby.oh.us/emergency-management-agency/
For up to date information on COVID-19, visit the Ohio Department of Health’s website dedicated to virus at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home
Reach the writer at 934-538-4823.