Better Together: Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis

Arwinder Judge, DDS


Aspen Dental was born from the commitment to eliminate barriers and create access to care for those who need it most. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our organization has pivoted quickly, adopting new ways of working to put the wellbeing of our patients, team members, and communities first. Our promise to be there for patients hasn’t changed.

Yet as a critical part of supporting a nationwide network of independent healthcare providers, we are focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19. That means following guidance from the ADA and state officials to limit in-office treatment to emergency and urgent care. Providing this care keeps these patients out of hospital emergency rooms, reducing stress on an already overburdened system.

Going a step further to meet these commitments, Aspen Dental is piloting a new virtual care initiative. All patients who call us or visit for an emergency appointment will be offered a virtual consult with a licensed Aspen Dental dentist.

The dentist can assess the patient’s condition and, where possible, provide immediate relief for patients at home. Patients with emergency or urgent needs can then be connected with an Aspen location for necessary in-person care, consistent with state and federal requirements. 

Adapting ways of working and helping Aspen Dental professionals provide patients with access to care is only possible because Aspen Dental, from day one, has grown as a community and support network to help independent dentists care for their patients. 

During this unprecedented moment when three-quarters of states in the nation have shelter-in-place orders encouraging people to stay home to stay safe, the expertise and support being shared across the Aspen network is the strength fueling our commitment to open 820 doors in a post COVID-19 period when patients will need access to care more than ever. 

Dental practices nationwide have felt the impact of the state and federal requirements that limit office visits to emergency and urgent patients only. According to estimates, dental patient visits are expected to be down 80% to 90% in the coming 30 to 60 days, forcing many dental practices to close their doors completely. Some closures are temporary, but some may never reopen.

Until it is safe to return to normal operations, Aspen Dental Management Inc (ADMI), the dental support organization (DSO) behind the Aspen Dental network, is working hard to provide our independent practice owners around-the-clock support through teledentistry, PPE sourcing and protocol guidance, continuing education, and basic support services. ADMI plays a key role in helping Aspen Dental care teams make informed choices that will help sustain their independent practices in the long term. 

Across ADMI, we exist to care for the people who care for patients. The responsibility goes far beyond functional support. At this critical moment, we’re offering reassurance, extending connections and serving as sounding boards, offering advice and coaching to navigate through this time together.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at ADMI is providing advice on critical topics such as:

  • Finance and practice management: Extending cash flow while managing fixed and variable expenses to outlast the crisis. Guidance navigating the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and SBA Loan Program. 
  • Compliance and precautionary measures: Using a best in class supply chain to source the PPE needed to comply with CDC infection disease standards. Care teams also have access to protocol education and guidance on state and local operating guidelines to ensure they operate within safe care standards.
  • Continuing education: Some offices may not be able to or choose not to operate right now. Professionals on Aspen Dental care teams have access to virtual learning. So if they aren’t able to practice at normal capacity, they can focus on learning and developing while time allows. Aspen also is opening its library of learning and development to all dental professionals during this period as a way to demonstrate its commitment to removing barriers to care.

Together, ADMI and the Aspen Dental network are 100% focused on protecting the wellbeing of our teams while ensuring the long-term viability of the business. It is a tall task, but together withthe dentists whose practices we support, ADMI is sustaining care for all, today and tomorrow.

Our continuing success is fueled by trust and the shared commitment of 12,000 Aspen Strong team members who believe the future is bright. This optimism powers our journey, so when the current restrictions lift and non-emergency patients can return to offices, doors reopen and patients are welcomed with a smile.

Dr. Judge is chief clinical officer at Aspen Dental Management Inc (ADMI), where he develops, implements, and leads programs that support the dentists who own and operate Aspen Dental branded practices. He also serves as a clinical liaison to nearly 1,200 dentists across the country, providing professional development, support, and mentorship, and as chair of ADMI’s credentialing committee. Before joining ADMI in 2008, he owned and operated several dental practices, and was president at East West Management Services. He received his DDS degree from the New York University College of Dentistry and holds a certificate from the Executive Management Program from Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Management. 

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