More than nine out of 10 dentists applied for financial relief through the Paycheck Protection Program, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute’s September 7 biweekly poll.
The vast majority of these dentists received funds, the ADA added. Dentists who did not apply to the Provider Relief Fund commonly didn’t because they didn’t know about it or because they didn’t believe they were eligible.
Also, about half of dentists polled believe rapid, point-of-care COVID-19 testing is important to have for their patients in their office, with variations based on dental service organization affiliation, practice size, and dentist age. Public health dentists believe testing is more important than dentists in private practice.
Less than half of the dentists polled, however, would be willing to administer COVID-19 vaccines to their patients. Approximately a third would consider it, and 25% were unwilling. Dentists in large group practices and in public health settings were more willing than dentists in private practice.
About 15% of patients won’t return to dental offices until a vaccine or proven treatment is available, the ADA said, with dental offices not ranked highly among the locations where they would be willing to get a vaccine.
Meanwhile, the recovery remains steady. As of September 7, 48.3% of dental offices were open with business as usual, with 50.5% open but with lower patient volume than usual. In the August 24 poll, 48.8% of offices were open with business as usual, and 49.9% were open but with lower patient volume than usual.
Similarly, 64.2% of practices saw 76% or more of their pre-pandemic patient volume and 59.6% of their pre-pandemic collections as of September 7. In the August 24 poll, 65.3% of practices saw 76% or more of their pre-pandemic volume and 59.6% of their pre-pandemic collections.
During the August 24 and September 7 polls alike, 94.0% of dental practices were fully paying their staffs, while 78.4% of non-owner dentists were fully paid. Also during the August 24 poll, 46.2% of those dentists who weren’t being paid at all were receiving unemployment benefits, and that dropped to 35.3% in the September 7 poll.