Ministry of Health Action to Support Dental Clinics

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Dr. Fred Pockrass
Dr. Fred Pockrass signed this petition

Dear Minister Dix:

We are writing you on behalf of concerned dental healthcare professionals practicing in British Columbia in hopes of a clear directive to help protect the patients we serve, the people we employ, our families and communities during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

As dental healthcare providers, our teams are exposed to aerosolized saliva and blood as a routine part of most dental procedures, including emergency and urgent treatments. Even with universal precautions in place, healthcare providers around the world are falling ill to COVID-19, putting themselves in danger, and potentially spreading the illness to their families and the public. Dental offices are at extremely high risk of being points of contact with this virus.

It is our responsibility as employers and healthcare providers to ensure the safety of our patients, staff, and members of the public that enter our workplaces on a daily basis. The “strongly recommended” measures in place by the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia as of March 16th 2020, and the delays in the implementation of these isolation strategies, are simply unsatisfactory.

In consideration of the severity of a potential COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, as has been seen in communities across the globe, we request that the Provincial Government, The Ministry of Health of BC and the Regional Health Authorities consider the following requests:

1.     Institute a province wide mandatory shutdown of all dental practices in the province of British Columbia, implemented by the Ministry of Health or regional Health Authorities.

2.     Establish centralized clinics for dentists to direct all of their emergency patients and to grant dentists in the province temporary hospital privileges if these clinics are to be established in existing hospital based dental clinics to reduce the burden on the current hospital based dental practitioners.

3.     Facilitate the Employment Insurance benefits process to ensure that our dental team members have access to income during the mandated shutdown.

4.     Facilitate the application process for “pandemic insurance” coverage for owners of dental practices.

5.     Consider financial actions to reduce the fixed expenditure burden of dental offices during an extended period of closure (e.g. deferring mortgage payments, loan payments, property tax payments).

6.     Consider supplementary compensation for practices forced to remain open to address emergency patients in their own facilities.

Without these measures in place dental practice owners will not be able to access critical insurance funds, employees risk loss of income and job security, the long term viability of dental businesses will be harmed, and most importantly, the risk of spread of COVID-19 will not be truly mitigated.

Please do take consideration of our requests. As health care providers, the safety of the community is a primary concern and we do ask your assistance in allowing us to achieving this goal during this time of crisis.

Sincerely,

Dr. David P. Alfaro, Certified Specialist in Prosthodontics & Dentist. Nelson, B.C.

BSc, MSc, DDS, Dip. Prostho