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An Interview With Interview Dr. Jay Hustead About The Impact COVID-19 Is Having On Dentistry – Part 1



Dr. Jay W. Hustead

Dr. Jay W. Hustead is a third-generation dentist.  He followed his father and his grandfather into dental medicine.  He was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.  He attended Uniontown High School and then graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science degree.  Then he followed his father and grandfather’s footsteps to the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and received his DMD degree.

Dr. Hustead currently lives in National Harbor, Maryland.  He presently practices dentistry in Bryans Road, Maryland at Smile Dental Art.  He has over 20 years of general and cosmetic dentistry experience.  He started with solo practice and developed it into multiple locations with multiple associated doctors, including specialty care and orthodontics.

Dr. Hustead is still practicing dentistry five days a week.  He did step back and work just two days a week for a period of time, but he got bored and decided to go back to five days a week.

Since he has had the experience of building up his practice into multiple locations through associations with other dentists, including specialty care and orthodontics, he knows that they come trained well on the clinical aspects of dentistry, but they are very weak on their management skills, such as the economics and basic management of the dentistry office.

Dr. Hustead has now formed a new company called Dental Management Group.  The sole idea of this company is to teach younger dentists how to do the actual practice management in order to better clinical operations.

 How has your industry been impacted by COVID-19 and social distancing now being required to flatten the spread of the virus?

To begin with, dentistry in the state of Maryland has been massively devastated.  We were closed for 52 days.  On May 7, 2020, the governor has opened up the practice of dentistry again starting next week, so we will be somewhat back to what the new normal is going to be.  During this timeframe, we were permitted only to treat emergencies, and we chose in our office to do it two days a week.  We screened those people and brought them in to treat them.

How are you able to help your customers work through all of the city closures given your industry relies on public space planning?

During this closure, we provided our patients with an answering service and emergency care via phone.  We were able to call in prescriptions and by going online we were able to then, if necessary, give them an appointment for emergency dental care on one of the two days we were open each week.

What does your typical day look like now versus prior to social isolation?

Our office has followed high standards of the CDC guidelines, but during the closure when we had emergency patients, we only permitted one patient in the office at a time.  They were required to wear a mask, and of course, we followed April 28, 2020, CDC guidelines for the health professions.  We modified the way we dressed and the way we approached everybody.  Henceforth in the near future, that is the way we will be.

We required the patients to wear their masks.  Staff was required to wear advanced personal protective equipment.  We implemented appointments, including doing digital forehead temperatures on our patients.

We also added additional questions on our medical form which included the symptoms of COVID-19 which are fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, runny nose, and possibly sore throat.  Also, we changed our medical form to ask the question, have you traveled domestically in the United States, or have you traveled outside of the United States in the past 30 days?

Now that we are going to be reopening effective next week, we will see a multitude of patients, but they are going to be timeframe spaced.  They again will be required to wear masks once they enter our facility.  Staff will continue to wear the new PPE guidelines which are the full-body gown, medical-grade mask, the surgical cap, facial shields, and gloves.

We have also changed our disinfectants.  There have been disinfectants that we have used in the dental office continuously, even before the coronavirus, but we are now going with even a higher-grade disinfectant.

How do you and your team stay in constant communication during this time?

In the past, we were far more casual.  We did wear gloves.  We did wear face masks, but the face mask you could pull down and you could talk.  Now because of the new April 28, 2020 guidelines, we are wearing masks, we are wearing shields, and it has really become more difficult to communicate with the staff while we are working because everything sounds like a mumble.  We have to speak louder.  We cannot remove any of that garb and talk to each other because we practice a six-feet distance even with our employees as best we can.  It has been difficult.

How is your business continuing to market your products during COVID-19?

Dentistry has always been somewhat unique in marketing.  There are some dentists who do everything from TV marketing to magazine marketing.  We primarily market our practice through our existing patients and getting referrals from friends and family.

We have gained new patients in the last 52 days because we were available two days a week to treat people in pain.  Some dental offices just did not open.  We also went to the local hospitals and notified their emergency rooms that we were available for dental emergencies, and we got referrals from the local hospitals.

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