Dentists in Washington, D.C. will be able to operate with elective procedures as the Phase 1 of the city’s reopening begins on Friday. However, they are suffering a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) after donating a huge number of those to hospitals.
“Dentists are among the highest professions at risk of contracting COVID-19, because of the proximity of the patient and the number of times they’re exposed each day,” Kurt Gallagher, Executive Director of the District of Columbia Dental Society (DCDS), told WJLA.
DCDS is a professional association representing more than 500 dentists working in and around the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.
Gallagher explained WJLA that a lot of members of theirs donated PPE supplies from their offices to medical facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, after the coronavirus outbreak emerged, which exhausted their stockpiles.
A survey among DCDS members revealed that 52 percent of D.C.-area dentists do not have a sufficient supply of N95 masks in their stock to support one day of current operations, while 18 percent of them have no supply of disposable gowns and 30 percent have gowns for only 1-9 days of reduced operations.
Tonight we reached out to @DC_HSEMA and @MayorBowser’s office about the PPE concerns being expressed by DC dentists — after the @DCDentalSociety said its requests for help from the city have gone unanswered for weeks.
— Heather Graf (@ABC7HeatherGraf) May 28, 2020
ABC 7 WJLA reporter Heather Graf contacted D.C. Health about the issue and received a response, reassuring the public that PPE starter kits will be provided to dentists starting from next week by D.C. Health and D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA).