November 2020 Volume LV Number 6

 
 
 
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AAPD Resources and Advocacy Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 2020 Volume LV Number 4

Pediatric dentists, as well as patient families, look to the AAPD for guidance, resources and advocacy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are highlights of our efforts thus far through the AAPD crisis management team, leadership, and staff.
 
Protecting the Safety of Children, Staff and Pediatric Dentists
Through our COVID-19 Updates and Resources webpages, AAPD leadership and staff report clinical/scientific developments and post valuable resources updated every day on topics including infection control, treating emergencies, and federal and state mandates. It gives members a road map
for what tomorrow may bring in terms of testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and emerging science about the virus. These online resources received over 18,000 unique page views from mid-March to mid- April.1
 
Sample topics:
 
  • Latest recommendations for providing emergency/urgent dental care and minimizing risk to patients and dental health professionals.
  • Latest CDC guidance regarding re- opening of dental practices to elective procedures.
  • Guidance/directives from individual states regarding the safe practice of dentistry.
  • Minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission while performing general anesthesia.
  • What to do about PPE shortages, especially N95 respirator masks.
Keeping Members Informed
The AAPD developed a strategic plan of consistent communications to deliver relevant and timely information to members that supports AAPD principles and guidelines.
 
Sample programs:
  • Social media contact through frequent e-blasts and Facebook posts.
  • Increased traffic of 200-300 percent on our member online forum, Little Teeth Chat.
  • Ongoing response to member/public/media queries.
  • Satellite media tour for AAPD President Dr. Kevin Donly to discuss the safety of pediatric dental offices and the need for parents at schedule appointments as practices re-open to elective services.
  • An AAPD Town Hall Meeting, entitled COVID-19: Planning for the New Normal in Your Pediatric Practice, was held on April 15, 2020 for 2,500 pediatric dental professionals. President Dr. Kevin Donly, President-elect Dr. Jessica Lee, Chief Policy Officer Dr. Paul Casamassimo, and Past President and Safety Committee Chair Dr. Jade Miller discussed key clinical issues and responded to member questions related to COVID-19.
  • A second AAPD Town Hall Meeting, Sound Science for Reopening Your Practice", was presented on April 27, 2020. Also hosted by Dr. Joel Berg, it featured President Donly, President-elect Lee, Chief Policy Officer Casamassimo and Safety Committee Chair Miller. They spoke directly to
  • member concerns related to infection control and safety in clinical practice during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • A series of seven special Pedo Teeth Talk podcasts on COVID-19 issues received 6,066 downloads as of mid-April. Hosted by Pedo Teeth Talk moderator Dr. Joel Berg , content experts were interviewed on such topics as crisis management, tele-dentistry, infection control/PPE, the CARES Act and Small Business Administration loans, and dealing with practice finances during a crisis.2
The AAPD’s Safety Committee developed a widely distributed member resource, Re-Emergence Pediatric Dentistry Practice Checklist: A guide for re-entry into practice. This guidance document was developed to provide navigation to members as they prepare to re- open their practices to the public. The checklist includes important considerations of pediatric dentistry and relevant resources to inform on clinical practice decisions during the COVID-19 outbreak. The AAPD checklist along with the ADA’s return to practice toolkit are essential resources and are available on the AAPD’s website in the COVID-19 section.
 
Advocating for Access to Care
Often working hand-in-hand with the American Dental Association (ADA), the AAPD has acted on a variety of fronts to promote access to safe pediatric dental services during the time of clinical practice limitations and practice re-emergence, and to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the ongoing viability of pediatric dental practices.
 
Sample efforts:
 
  • Regular updates and advice to the membership regarding Small Business Administration (SBA) loan opportunities: the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created under the CARES Act.
  • A grassroots alert influencing Congress regarding the application requirements and deadlines of SBA PPP loans under the CARES Act.
  • The AAPD joined the ADA and a strong dental coalition including many of our state pediatric den- tistry chapters in requesting additional PPP funding and allowance for dental practices to choose the 8-week period for which they can seek forgiveness and rehire staff. Many of our recommendations were included in the Paycheck Protection Plan Flexibility Act – recently signed into law – that provides more flexibility for timing of and use of funds.
  • The AAPD joined a strong coalition of dental organizations in request- ing federal financial assistance for dentists who participate in Med- icaid and CHIP. The effort was suc- cessful. In June the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of $15 bil- lion in Medicaid provider relief funds, with a July 20, application deadline. Approved applicants will receive at least two percent of an- nual gross practice revenue.
  • Support of an ADA letter asking Congress to help ensure appropri- ate personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to all health care providers.
  • Tips on patient communications, plus free downloadable materials to brighten the day for patients.
  • Reports on developments in tele-dentistry, including state regulations, protocols, policies on covered benefits, and use of procedure codes.
  • Continual updates on how public and private insurers are
  • managing the pandemic, including emergency assistance and financial support to dental practices.
  • Ongoing communication with third-party payers with recommen- dations on the adaptation of reim- bursement procedures important to dentists and patients.
  • Sample letter to AAPD’s state Public Policy Advocates to send their state Medicaid agency requesting support for flexibility and support in areas such as tele-dentistry, provider advance payments, provider rate increases, and allowance of two or more exams during a six month period in light of the backlog of patient visits.

PPE Assistance Available to AAPD Members
Thanks to AAPD Foundation and Henry Schein
 
Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability should not be a barrier to care or a factor in treatable dental cases evolving into emergencies. In the largest single commitment in its 33-year history, the AAPD Foundation has allocated up to $1.6 mil- lion to offer all AAPD members one 50 count box supply of KN95 masks at no charge, in a joint collaboration between the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the AAPD Foundation. As part of the company’s commitment to help enhance access to care for vulnerable populations, including children, Henry Schein, Inc. – the world’s largest provider of health care solu- tions to office-based dental and medical practitioners – is providing these masks to AAPD Foundation at its cost of acquisition and distribution, and leveraging its supply chain network to provide implementation assistance.
 
Recognizing PPE shortages are barriers to care, the AAPD Foundation supporting distribution of PPE to AAPD members is an extension of its access-to-care mission. The Academy and Foundation recognize manufacturers, suppliers and distributors face unprecedented demand coupled with supply-chain gaps worldwide. We are grateful to Henry Schein, Inc., for assisting AAPD members to provide care to the kids with as few supply interruptions as possible.
 
The Academy continues its work with local, state and federal government agencies to ensure they recognize child oral health care as essential health care. We also are promoting AAPD members as valuable community child advocates who can identify and prevent the future spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
 
In addition to PPE access, the Foundation’s $1.6 million allocation will help fund the development of a public education campaign emphasizing dental office safety and child oral health care as essential health care. With an emphasis on prevention and early ac- cess to the dentist beginning at Age One, the campaign will feature social media, direct-to-consumer outreach, and materials for member use in their practices.
 

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