This is part two of an interview with Dr. Jay Hustead discussing the impact COVID-19 is having on the dental industry. We have already learned about the measures Dr. Jay’s has already taken to overcome social distancing challenges and his thoughts on the “new normal” for the dentistry industry moving forward.
For readers interested in part one of the interview, it can be found here: An Interview With Interview Dr. Jay Hustead About The Impact COVID-19 Is Having On Dentistry – Part 1.
What are some things outside of work that you are doing now to stay busy?
I have taken the majority of these 52 days and said I am just going to advance dental education by utilizing webinars in order to do continuing education in dentistry. I completed a course on the CDC guidelines and a course on dental implantology. I took another course on current trends in endodontics which is root canal treatment. In the last 10 or 15 years I have been pretty focused on cosmetic dentistry, so I took three different courses on cosmetic dentistry.
How difficult has it been responding to new safety requirements?
It has been difficult. Initially we were unable to get back stock for the personal protective equipment (PPE) since the vast majority of those products, as you know, were shipped to the hotspots, like New York. Since Maryland has mandated that we have at least now a one-week supply of PPE for patients and staff in stock, more manufacturing has come online and some of the things that we had on backorder for almost a month have now arrived. Today’s dentistry makes us look like a specimen.
What keeps you motivated during this time of quarantine?
My two golden retrievers require a lot of walks. They are so spoiled because we are here and they are getting a lot of fresh air and exercise, as well as I am. When I am not sitting around researching on the computer, I stay busy. I read a lot of novels. My passion has been cooking, limited by the grocery stores not having the things that I need, but thankfully I do not have to use toilet paper to cook. What I am really looking forward to is going to my favorite restaurant and having a martini.
What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome from working remotely?
From a remote standpoint, if a person calls me on our emergency line I am able to remotely go into their chart, review their medical history, make sure they do not have any allergies to any antibiotics that I want to prescribe or any pain pills that I think I need to prescribe. We have used that only on the emergency side.
I can access the chart also and when I talk to someone on the phone, I will give them an appointment on one of the two days that we are seeing emergencies.
What advice would you give to our readers about how you have had to change your business practice to meet social distancing guidelines?
The hardest thing probably for the dental community is the six-foot social distancing requirement. We have had to reconfigure our front desk business area. We have had to reconfigure our waiting room. One of the things we have done is when a patient comes in and signs in, we have given them the option that they may sit in their car and we will come out and get them when we are ready for them as opposed to having to sit in the reception area.
What is one piece of advice that is getting you through these current times?
I have told both my patients and my staff to stay busy at home. Enjoy your family and your pets. Wash your hands a lot and use sanitizer.
When this pandemic is behind us, what is the future of dentistry?
Dentistry has changed forever and will never be the dentistry of old. Prior to COVID-19, dentistry was very casual and at the onset of most of my appointments I would sit chairside and chat with my patients, talk to them about their family, shake their hands, and be their friend. Now, the protocol has changed so much that I cannot enter the room unless I am fully draped and covered, and it is difficult to even communicate through a mask and a face shield. It is really taking the closeness of dentistry, I think, away, and I do not foresee it coming back in the near future.
Our new PPE guidelines will not be revised. They do not go backward. They are not going to mandate and come out and say, do not garb up, do not wear face shields, do not wear masks. I think it is going to stay here for years. You will probably see dentists relax a little bit, especially if we develop a vaccine for the virus, but in my opinion it has brought attention to what disease can do to this country as well the practice of dentistry.