US dentists called on for urgent assistance
NEW YORK, U.S.: Dentists in the U.S. now find themselves at the epicenter of a pandemic, as they are being called upon to provide urgent assistance to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and to help treat those critically ill with COVID-19. A plea has been made for dentists to donate masks, gloves and other personal protection equipment (PPE) items, and dentists in California may now volunteer as emergency health care workers in order to provide general medical assistance that extends beyond oral care.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has requested the donation of any infection control products that can be spared, and a March 30 callout to dentists has been made on the state’s behalf by the New York County Dental Society, the National Dental Association and the organizers of the Greater New York Dental Meeting. Dentists are asked to send full or partially full boxes of masks, gowns, gloves and other infection control products by the U.S. Postal Service, UPS or FedEx to Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Operation Gotham, 655 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001; and to mark the boxes “Attn: New York National Guard Unit.”
Donated PPE supplies will be distributed to the New York hospitals and health care facilities that need them most. Dentists who do not have spare supplies are asked to make a donation by placing an order with their dental distributor for available products and specifying that they be sent to the above address.
California is calling for help
It is expected that confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California will exceed the capabilities of its existing medical workforce, and the California Dental Association (CDA) has informed its members that they can put their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, sterile surgical techniques and pharmacology to use by registering as volunteer health care workers on the California Health Corps Disaster Volunteers website.
“Registration will allow local hospitals with the greatest need to utilize dentists’ skills in this time of dire need” – California Dental Association
During the registration process, dental professionals can determine the level at which they wish to volunteer, including as part of the response units of the Medical Reserve Corps and California Medical Assistance Team. Registrants can alternatively participate in a county-level response by volunteering on a single-event basis. According to the CDA, “registration will allow local hospitals with the greatest need to utilize dentists’ skills in this time of dire need.”
The CDA said that dentists can provide assistance in a number of ways, for example by taking vital signs; performing COVID-19 testing; performing triage; treating emergencies, including providing local anesthesia and suturing; administering oxygen; administering injectables, including vaccinations; and writing prescriptions. Furthermore, oral surgeons and dental anesthesiologists can intubate and provide deep sedation and general anesthesia services.
The CDA bulletin also calls for donations of PPE supplies and includes information on the immunity from liability for care provided by participating volunteers.
By April 3, the U.S. had the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19—245,399—and 6,053 deaths had been recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. By the same date, the four states with the highest number of confirmed cases were New York (92,743) and neighboring New Jersey (25,590), California (11,112) and Michigan (10,791). At 2,468, New York state had reported the highest number of deaths, followed by New Jersey with 537, Michigan with 417 and California with 243.