Did you have 2020 vision? Back in January, most of us had a pretty clear vision for what 2020 would bring, and what we wanted to accomplish. How quickly we all learned that our vision was nowhere close to “2020.”
To say this year has had its share of crisis’s would be an understatement. A microscopic virus wreaked havoc across the globe. Fear spread just as rapidly, continually fed by an ever-present media stream. The country shut down most of its economy. Supplies were depleted rapidly and stockpiled by some. Anger against the disease of racism erupted. Now, schools are in the limelight and the nation is holding its breath to see what will unfold in the weeks ahead.
Dentistry has been unexpectedly hit hard. Not only were we rapidly shut down for months, purely because of limited PPE supplies; but we also had entities attacking the safety of the profession with zero evidence. Dentists and team members across the country lost jobs and offices due to fear and panic. Other team members became too afraid to continue serving in our profession. Recovery over the summer has been a sometimes-confusing process.
It is easy during a crisis to focus on the negative, that is all we seem to hear in the media. However, is that the reality we face, or is our actual experience something different than what you see on the news and social media? Is there any good news happening around the world? It must exist too, right?
If we shift our focus, perhaps we can reveal the “silver lining” that often comes during times of great upheaval. Let’s talk about what good news has emerged this year:
- People's lives have for the most part slowed down.
- Families are spending more time together, whether in person, by phone, Zoom, Skype. Etc.
- Even the mature generation who previously did not touch a computer are now becoming at least proficient in online “live” communication. This is bringing everyone closer together, even if we must try to physically stay apart.
- Neighbors are helping each other, shopping for each other, checking on one another.
- The entire world is in the same boat. We are learning to work together to solve a global crisis.
- People are now treating fevers like they probably should have always done, by staying at home.
- New innovations are here or coming as a direct result of the forced shift in the world. Healthcare has forged ahead with many new remote monitoring technologies, to better care for patients.
- Many people have started cooking and eating at home more, leading to healthier diets.
- More jobs than ever have bridged the link to be able to work from home.
Perhaps most importantly, during our time of fear, our time of loss, our time of sacrifice we are learning to value what is truly important in our lives… Our families, our neighbors, our first responders, our grocery store workers, restaurant servers, housekeepers, hairdressers, teachers… they are the real “celebrities.” We’ve learned that handshakes, hugs, smiles and simply sitting together for a meal are the priceless moments in life. The moments we have all taken for granted.
Within our treasured dental profession:
- The CDC and other organizations have reaffirmed that dental offices have NO evidence of viral spread anywhere. Covid-19 may be spreading in many types of healthcare, but not dentistry.
- Even so, we have implemented even more stringent infection control procedures. Our dental offices are second only to operating rooms in terms of safety for our patients and for our dental team members as well.
- We have successfully returned to serving our patients, for months now, without incident!
- Patients still have teeth and still need to see us. Even more so now with the linkages revealed between periodontal disease and Covid-19 severity. We have competently handled more emergencies and periodontal treatments this year than ever before.
- We have become even more inventive in our services, adding tele-dentistry options, new patient education and communication avenues.
- Through our government intervention and stimulation packages, along with our own team efforts to improve efficiencies of operation we are for the most part surviving and continuing to serve our local communities.
On a personal note, I admit that I miss having a great “away” vacation, I miss going to our church, I miss going to meetings and lunches with my colleagues, and I miss movies and large events. However, I can certainly account for several very positive experiences as well:
- During the shutdown, I had time to get a strong start in writing an insurance textbook that I hope will greatly impact dental offices across the country.
- My daughter still LOVES school, even with all the new procedures, masks and controls. She lost her first tooth!
- My son has started walking and is all over the house.
- I’ve played more family games, laughed more, and gotten more well wishes than ever before.
- Both our kids and the rest of our family are safe and healthy.
So, while the news and many people will likely continue to discuss and focus on the negative, why don’t we start a movement to focus on the positive? We can prop each other up and maybe even learn from each other!
The dental industry has forever changed, but many changes may be for the better. Offices have developed many new techniques or learnings to improve the office. Times of crisis often breed amazing advancements. Many dental meetings are going virtual, like Chicago Midwinter. Are in-person dental shows now a thing of the past, or will they come back? Or could virtual end up being better for everyone involved?