Local dental offices hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Alonzo Osche

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Fresno resident Kathryn Koch hasn’t been to the dentist since February. Now she’s back, even in a pandemic. “It was time. I’m a school teacher, so this is the day. I also have things I want the dentist to take a look at just routine to […]

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Fresno resident Kathryn Koch hasn’t been to the dentist since February. Now she’s back, even in a pandemic.

“It was time. I’m a school teacher, so this is the day. I also have things I want the dentist to take a look at just routine to make sure all my teeth are healthy, and if I don’t come in, it can lead to more damage,” said Koch.

Dentists across the country are starting to see more of their patients after restrictions loosened, and safety measures were stepped up.

A new Central Valley Health Policy Institute study found the dental industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic.

At Willow Dental Group, patients have phone screenings, and their temperatures are checked when they arrive.

About 50% to 60% of patients are being seen.

“We’ve had people had to go on furlough. We’ve had people who don’t want to come in. I think there’s some fear and apprehension, and we are trying our best to make sure our patients are taken care of,” said Dr. Shawn Anderson, owner of Willow Dental Group.

Dr. Shawn Anderson says they’re following safety protocols for employees and patients. Cleaning has increased, and filters have been added.

Willow Dental has about 6,000 patients, and like many practices is trying to catch up on a backlog of appointments safely.

“We’re trying to make sure there are not as many people in, but that does affect the business and the ability to treat patients that have needs,” Dr. Anderson said.

They’re also dealing with employees shortage some days depending on childcare or health.

Willow Dental was able to use the Payroll Protection Program to help its business.

Of those surveyed, 62% believed the financial support they received from the CARES Act was adequate, while 33% believed it was inadequate.

Despite these challenging times, dentists we spoke with say they’re prepared to do what it takes to stay in business and keeps patients safe during these uncertain times.

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