Tag Archives: Covid-19

Spring arrives on the Mountain

I am so thankful that I was able to get vaccinated – an advantage to being 75. Jamie, as a teacher, was able to get her vaccination as well.

Dr. Jack directs traffic for Jerome vaccination day.

We were fortunate that Spectrum Health, and our Jerome Town Council, staff and volunteers, conducted a day of free vaccinations for all in attendance and provided over 300 shots to locals. However, living in Arizona has presented challenges to maintaining mitigation, with our Governor eliminating the mask requirement and opening bars and restaurants – many of whom do not require social distancing – so no surprise that Covid cases are starting to rise again.

Dr. Jack participates by video in Dr. Jamie Edelson’s future of dentistry conference in Mexico City.

I continue to stay busy providing webinars promoting the necessity of good oral health to maintain good overall health. Recently, I had the privilege of being on a panel looking at how to create a “no caries” future for Dr. Jaime Edelson in Mexico City with some extraordinary dental leaders. 

The growing emergence of DSOs, Dental Therapists and the increasing role of Dental Hygienists have all contributed to an increased awareness that periodontal disease is associated with many systemic health issues including both kidney and pancreas illness.

Dr. Jack welcomes dental student leader and friend Dennis Spain to Jerome, reconnecting after 50 years

The continuing development of innovative technologies from teledentistry/telehealth, lasers, 3D printing to name a few adds to the opportunity to engage more people/patients into quality affordable oral health care. This includes, seniors, those living in rural communities and those with special needs.

Please explore these opportunities and work with health leaders, insurance companies and policy makers to bring our valuable and needed services to those in need.

Stay well and committed to being a positive force for overall health, equity and promoting accessible and affordable health care for all.

Safety first, as dental offices, and other businesses begin to open

In order for dental practices to succeed during the pandemic and have patients return, dental offices need to be sensitive to their fears. This can be done by following the CDC/ADA recommended safety procedures including interviewing patients on the phone prior to setting up their appointment, scheduling them when no other patients are there, or just one or two at a time, separating them in the waiting area. Common practices should include taking temperature when patients arrive, making sure operatories are sanitized between patients and so forth.

Dr. Jack with League of Women Voter’s Town Council Forum moderator.

This “new” commitment to safety, and the increased awareness of oral health being a determinant of overall health, provides an opportunity for all oral health providers to be a positive force in improving the health of dental patients. For example, now dental practitioners have the opportunity and the responsibility to educate their diabetic patients on sound nutrition and A1C testing. Please check with the insurers to see if they are willing to add this as reimbursable procedures. It is possible to move in that direction to succeed now and into the future.

Dr. Jack in his Man Mine participating in a live Zoom meeting!

While still at home, Dr. Jack has been working with a few innovative groups, creating webinars, publications and advice for oral health providers and dental industry companies. It is becoming more common for this activity from our professional organizations and dental schools due to COVID-19, and will continue to be the norm over the next few months, as dental offices continue to open and make changes to comply with the new safety requirements.

Jack and Jamie celebrating her birthday at the Asylum restaurant in Jerome.

Dr. Jack continues to contribute and urges all healthcare professionals to reassess their practices, especially when it comes to improving the overall health and safety of dental patients and staff.

Safety, Health, Innovation and Community our new post pandemic priorities 

The new decade has begun in a very unexpected fashion. We are dealing with a viral pandemic, an economic catastrophe and millions of health care providers facing issues they never anticipated.

As a consequence of this pandemic, most of my speaking gigs have been cancelled or postponed with the exception of an international webinar for Colgate. The webinar I created was on integrating oral health into primary care, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out over 4,000 live viewers watched it. For those who are interested, here’s the link to their Webinar page: Colgate Webinar.

Dr. Jack is busy preparing for his Colgate Webinar presentation.

While we all try to manage our personal lives with many families staying home, some travelers stranded and jobs evaporating – we must try to use this difficult time to rethink and possibly reorganize our health care system so it provides a means for providers to work more collaboratively, payers – including insurers – must work to promote prevention and the integration of overall health care while reducing costs – while still making a profit, Healthcare should be about promoting health and not greed.

Jack enjoys time in his Man Mine.

The separation of oral health/care from medical care years ago has continued to promote a siloed approach with separate health records, payment mechanisms, and a real lack of collegial collaboration of providers who are still very provider-focused rather than patient-focused. To meet the needs of patients, providers should consider opening their offices open during lunchtime, as well as on occasional evenings and weekends, in order to be more patient-centric.

In addition, the expansion and reimbursement of tele-health procedures will increase the access of care to rural, elderly and isolated patients. The innovative discussions among health industry leaders – including, manufacturers, distributors, providers, educators and payers – need to address how the health professions can do better and be more efficient and equitable by consolidating. Potentially, dentistry could become a specialty of medicine. Harvard School of Dental Medicine started in their Medical School, and continues to this day, to incorporate the first two years of basic sciences side-by-side with medical students. I would not be surprised if in this decade we witness dental education and practice blending with medical education and practice.

We need to put the mouth back into the body and treat it as a specialty of medicine. Some specialties of medicine include – ophthalmology, cardiology, neurology, etc. – why not include oral medicine?  This idea isn’t new – it just needs to be more seriously evaluated. Dr. Don Giddon, DMD, Ph.D former NYUCD Dean and Harvard faculty has been promoting this idea for decades. This is food for thought as we all try to make the best of a difficult situation. 

COVID-19 pandemic – an opportunity for you to make a difference

As I sit here in Jerome, Arizona I am trying to focus on not catching this disease while doing what I can as a public health provider and a community leader. I realize that this is a generational moment that could not have been imagined or predicted. Here in Jerome, a town of 457 people, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Arizona is being called upon to thrive while shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and wine tasking rooms, are closed and jobs are evaporating. I marvel at the generosity of a local restauranteur who opened the doors of his restaurants to distribute the remaining food for free to locals. Other healthy citizens are preparing food for those that are unable to leave their homes and the town shuttle driver is donating his time to bring food from nearby markets.

Dr. Jack works from his “man mine” to stay connected with colleagues and friends.

Those of us in the dental field are asked to not provide “elective” dental services – which has a significant financial impact on our practices and clinics. I wish that organized dentistry would work with our other health care professionals to see how dental personnel – dentists, hygienists, therapists, community health workers and assistants can be integrated into the overall health/medical environment. We need to work with the health insurers/payers to develop reimbursable ways that tele-health can be an effective means to provide needed services to our patients without them coming to our offices/clinics. We need to adopt reimbursement opportunities allow those with special needs – those with autism, down syndrome and other conditions to receive “elective” dental care during this time that is draining our health care resources. 

Miss Holly Scout manages to sleep while Dr. Jack conducts business on his phone while at home.

Like everyone else, I too have had to make some significant adjustments to my calendar and travel plans. The Senior Dental Leaders program in London – at which I was to be a speaker – was postponed for a  year.  Additional speaking and meeting engagements in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Nantucket and Israel were all postponed for up to a year. While an inconvenience, these changes are not nearly as impactful as the significant effect the pandemic is having on so many.

Unfortunately, the strain on our health system and each other will get worse before it gets better – but it will get better! Please work together as leaders – though that may not be your personal aspiration – to engage our colleagues, elected officials and payers so that we can be part of the solution in creating a meaningful, responsive, caring health care system that adequately pays our providers while not over charging our patients for the care they need.

Be like Miss Holly Scout, chill out during this time of social distancing.

Please be safe as we all go thru this difficult time. Thank you for listening and for all you do to be part of the solution.