As the COVID-19 situation continues to rapidly evolve, we want to make you aware of resources available to you. In these unprecedented times, we are all trying to figure out the best course of action as conditions and recommendations change hourly.
We know that communicating with patients and taking care of your staff is a primary concern. To that end, included here is an email template that you may choose to modify and use for patient communication, as well as an office checklist and virtual visit guide to assist you. We have also compiled some guidance for unemployment for your team as well financial resources.
These are uncertain times for all of us to say the least. I do take some comfort, however, in knowing we are all in this together. Please reach out if you have thoughts or questions.
Wishing you health and wellness,
Robert Meister, DDS, MS
Additional information can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control
- The AAO has created a webpage for members for COVID-19, including resources on office closures, practice reopening considerations, staff & HR information, and more.
In addition, the AAO joined the Organized Dentistry Coalition in asking for protection for dental practices after Congress passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. A copy of the letter can be found here.
- “Recession-Proof Your Practice” with Wendy O’Donovan Phillips of Big Buzz: View a recording of the webinar here. Note: the actual webinar begins around minute 27. If you are interested in any of the resources mentioned, please contact us.
Access Password: pcso2020
- Compliance with the current OSHA and CDC guidelines and the Coronavirus with Andrea Cook. View the webinar here.
- The AAO is providing free COVID-19 webinars for members on urgent topics. In addition, to enhance skills during any downtime you may have, the AAO is offering complimentary access to their entire online CE library. Access AAO’s online recorded lecture series at https://aaoinfo.digitellinc.com/aaoinfo/conferences/1/view. The online CE library offers convenient, 24/7 access to over 500 hours of CE for you and your team.
PATIENT EMAIL TEMPLATE:
In the spirit of community and in accordance with the guidelines from the <Insert Dental/Medical Association or State-Province>, we are suspending all non-essential care for at least the next <Insert Number of Weeks>, to and including <Insert Actual Date of End of Closure>.
If you have an appointment in our ofﬁce within that time period, we will be calling you as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment. Please be patient with us and allow us to call you to reschedule. This will help us to manage the overall appointment schedule in order to best address everyone’s needs.
<Insert Doctor Name Here> is reviewing each patient’s treatment status as appointments are rescheduled to minimize the impact this delay will have on your overall treatment time. Your understanding and patience with this very challenging situation is appreciated.
If you have an urgent need during this time, we will be available for emergency appointments. Please call our ofﬁce as soon as possible so we may determine the best course of action for your speciﬁc situation.
We look forward to seeing you back in our ofﬁce soon.
<Insert Doctor/Practice Name>
OFFICE CHECKLIST FOR EMERGENCY ONLY TREATMENT:
1. Email patients directly (template above), add to social media and website.
2. Update phone answering message: Thank you for calling <Insert Doctor‘s Name> ofﬁce. We are currently on another call or away from the scheduling desk. Due to the growing concerns surrounding COVID-19, the <Insert Dental/Medical Association or State-Province> has recommended we suspend nonessential care for the next <Insert Timeframe>. If you have a routine appointment scheduled between now and <Insert Date>, we will be calling you soon to reschedule your appointment. We will continue to provide emergency care for our patients during this time period. If you have a question or urgent need, please leave a message and we will return your call as quickly as possible.
3. Print a list of scheduled appointments by appointment type/by day for the next <Insert Timeframe> before beginning to reschedule patients:
To avoid chaos, be direct with the rescheduling and set a time period to reschedule (e.g. current appointment + 5-6 weeks since this is a reasonable sequence; we may lose one appointment within the treatment cycle but most cases can handle this reasonably).
Sample Script for the Front Desk to use in rescheduling: In an abundance of caution and in accordance with the recommendations of the <Insert Dental/Medical Association or State-Province> we are closing our ofﬁce to all but emergency care for the next <Insert Timeframe>. We need to reschedule the appointment for <patient name>. The appointments we currently have available are tments>.
Use this list to review patient’s treatment cards and progress so that follow up treatment recommendations can be made (elastics, aligner changes, turning expanders etc.).
Set up video conferences with Doctor via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom etc. as needed for patient consults.
4. Set up a schedule for emergency care with as few people in the ofﬁce as possible (this will place clinical staff on rotations and allow for childcare for staff whose children are out of school).
5. Create rotation for administrative staff and forward calls as needed.
Waiting room environment:
1. Determine individual patient/caregiver current health situation (e.g. take temperatures).
2. Minimize the number of people in any space.
If a patient needs to be seen ask that one caregiver or parent accompany the patient and reside in the waiting room or wait in their car while emergency treatment is rendered.
If parents or caregivers bring additional individuals with them ask that they wait in their car and let them know the ofﬁce will call them on their cell phones when the treatment is complete to update and to reschedule
3. Remove all magazines, toys, games, iPads, etc. from the waiting rooms.
4. If possible, schedule the next appointment by phone.
1. Ask patients to wash their hands before and after brushing their teeth and rinse with 1% hydrogen peroxide prior to being seen (research suggests coronavirus is vulnerable to oxidation and this will reduce the salivary load of oral microbes).
2. Provide maximum space between patients in any clinical setting (at least 6 feet).
3. Minimize any use of rotary instrumentation (hand pieces) that can create aerosols.
4. Render palliative emergency treatment only or refer the patient to an emergency room if necessary.
VIRTUAL VISIT RESOURCES:
Maintaining contact with your patients while suspending nonessential care can be done through virtual visits. If you choose to implement virtual visits with your patients, you can use the sample materials here to give your patients and their families an understanding of how they work.
Sample Email/Script to Introduce Virtual Visits:
Dear Patients and Parents,
While we may be postponing your routine care visit, know that the materials we use today for orthodontic treatment have the ability to move you toward our goals for quite some time. For patients in braces, be assured that we use long acting wires that continue to work for several months. For our patients in aligners, if you have been wearing them as instructed, your treatment is progressing even though you are not here for an office visit.
Nevertheless, we know you may have questions about your treatment progress. In an effort to address those questions during this challenging time we are introducing virtual visits for our patients. The attached virtual visit guide provides step by step instructions that will enable us to monitor your progress, even if we cannot see you in person.
Please know that we are committed to excellence in your care. We look forward to seeing you in person again soon!
If you prefer to create a video resource, you can use this example from CAO Member Dovi Prero to create a video to share with patients on your practice website and/or social media platforms.
GUIDANCE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT FOR TEAM:
Here is some additional information for you in this time of turmoil as it relates specifically to your employees. If you find yourself having to temporarily lay off employees or decrease hours due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government is allowing states to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits.
It is important to note that some states do have a waiting period to receive these benefits, however, so it would be good to inform your employees of their options right away so they can be prepared.
- Employees should have their information ready to file. The employment agency will need to verify employees’ income, so it is important that they have documentation of this. They will also need verification of their work situation (communication from management about reduction of hours). In addition to documentation verifying income and work status, employees typically need the following as well.
- Social Security number
- Home address and mailing address (if different)
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Bank name, address, account number, and routing number for direct deposit
- Employer’s name, address, and phone number
- First and last day worked with employer
- Reason for leaving
- Pension or severance package information (if applicable)
- Employees should file online as soon as possible. Due to the influx of claims, it may take longer than normal to get benefits, so action sooner than later is to their benefit. The U.S. Department of Labor has a helpful tool where each state’s direct unemployment website and contact information can be accessed. https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/Find-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx
Canadian employees can access information on Employment Insurance by visiting the Employment and Social Development Canada page: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html. Please note that when employees are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not working, an ROE must be issued. For Box 16 – Reason for Separation, you can use the following codes: Code D (Illness or Injury) if the employee is sick or quarantined, Code A (Shortage of Work) if the employee stops working due to shortage of work or shutdown due to COVID-19, or Code E (Quit)/Code N (Leave of Absence) if the employee is not sick or quarantined but not working due to other reasons related to COVID-19. (Adding comments causes the ROE to be pulled from the automatic processing queue and will slow down the process.)
- Encourage employees to apply even if they/you are not sure they are eligible. The process to file varies by state but there are two key questions that are typically asked: Did you lose your job through no fault of your own? Are you able and available for work? Even if an employee has had hours reduced, they may qualify for partial unemployment.
- Employees have the right to appeal if their claim is denied.
- The AAO has compiled a list of the top 5 things to know about the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), which the Senate and House passed March 25 and 27, respectively, and was signed into law March 27. Read the article here. In addition, a national financial consulting and law practice, Collier & Associates Inc., is offering dentists insight into the small business interruption loans provisions under the CARES Act.
- Bentson Copple and Associates Resource – CARES Act
Chris Bentson and Shannon Patterson (Bentson Copple and Associates) have developed a summary and FAQ sheet to educate members on the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and how it affects small business owners.
- Paycheck Protection Loans Available Via the CARES Act
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act includes $350 billion set aside as part of a new federal small business loan program. AAO Members should plan to familiarize themselves with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, a provision included in the recently passed CARES Act.
Overview of paycheck protection loans: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP%20–%20Overview.pdf
Info sheet: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP%20Borrower%20Information%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
- Small Business Association — Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
- SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
- Facebook for Business: Facebook announced its Small Business Grants Program will offer $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help address financial disruption caused by the coronavirus. Funds will be available to help cover rent and workforce and operational expenses. The application process is currently in development. Interested business owners are invited to sign up to receive information when it becomes available.
- Tax Deadline: The federal tax return filing deadline is now July 15, 2020. For tax payments of up to $10 million, the IRS has also extended the deadline for both individuals and businesses to July 15, 2020. Estimated tax payments for 2020 originally due on April 15 will now be due on July 15.
Check with your state tax agency to find out if your business has more time to file or more time to pay state and local taxes this year as a result
of the coronavirus.
- “From Good to Great in a Tough Economy,” a PCSO webinar from several years ago but applies today:https://www.pathlms.com/pcso/events/249/audio_slide_presentations/6695
- Cain Watters Guidance on Cash Flow and Staffing:
- “Managing Cash Flow, Staffing during COVID-19” — lists recommendations for maintaining or increasing a practice’s cash flow if needed
- “Options Available if You Make the Decision to Close or Limit Hours and Staff” — provides direction on furloughing staff and working with state unemployment agencies. Additional options discussed include allowing staff to use accrued sick leave/vacation time and continuing full pay.
- Additional state-specific resources available (as of 3/23/2020):
San Francisco COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund
Businesses with between one and five employees can apply for up to $10,000 in emergency funding to help cover rent and employee salaries.
Who’s eligible: You must show that you lost 25% or more of your revenue, that you have less than $2.5 million in gross receipts and that you’re properly licensed to operate in San Francisco.
The City of San Francisco has also initiated a moratorium on evictions for small- and medium-sized businesses whose revenue has been affected by the coronavirus. It’s effective for 30 days starting March 17, and the mayor has the capability to extend it for another 30 days.
City of Los Angeles Small Business Emergency Microloan Program
Businesses and microenterprises in Los Angeles that are responsible for providing low-income jobs can get an emergency microloan of $5,000 to $20,000. Loans with repayment terms of six months to one year carry an interest rate of 0% and five-year loans have interest rates of 3% to 5%.
Who’s eligible: To get a loan, you must meet requirements including having “reasonable and responsible” individual credit history, committing to use the loan for working capital only and ensuring your business is located within the City of Los Angeles. If you own 20% or more of the business, you must guarantee the loan.
How to apply: Apply online and provide supporting documentation including business and personal tax returns, three months of bank statements and business and personal financial statements.
Los Angeles has also instituted a moratorium on evictions of businesses impacted by the coronavirus through March 31.
Beaverton Emergency Business Assistance Program
Businesses in Beaverton that were ordered to close as a result of government coronavirus guidelines can apply for $2,500 per month in rent or mortgage reimbursement while the city is in a declared state of emergency.
Who’s eligible: Businesses with fewer than 50 employees that have been ordered to change their services due to the coronavirus. They must have a commercial storefront in Beaverton and a rental lease or mortgage on the property.
How to apply: Submit an application online; funds are awarded on a first-come, first served basis.
Hillsboro Small Business Emergency Relief Program
From March 23 to April 20, businesses in Hillsboro can apply to receive a $5,000 grant to offset losses associated with the coronavirus. Priority will be given to restaurants, bars, education facilities and businesses that serve large groups of people.
Who’s eligible: Businesses with 10 or fewer employees will be prioritized.
How to apply: Submit a W-9, federal tax ID number and Hillsboro business license number along with an online application.
Jade District-Old Town COVID-19 Small Business Response Fund
In Portland, small businesses in the Jade District and Old Town Chinatown neighborhoods can apply for emergency funding to support their businesses by March 23. Up to $190,000 total is available from local government sources. Priority will be given to Asian- and Pacific Islander-owned businesses.
The Washington State Department of Revenue has created a page dedicated to business relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.