A Message from 2020-2021 CFDDA President
Dr. Suzi Thiems-Heflin

As your 2020-2021 Central Florida District Dental Association (CFDDA) component president. We have just gone through some difficult times, with COVID-19 and the financial hardships it imposed on our lives. Hopefully, we are pulling out of the unknown and moving on to normalcy.

 Our dental associations have been working hard on our behalf. Our Florida Dental Association (FDA) president, Dr. Rudy Liddell, was appointed co-chair of the “American Dental Association’s Advisory Task Force on Dental Practice Recovery” which authored a Toolkit to help practices reopen safely. It is available at www.ada.org and has a wealth of knowledge and sample letters, etc. And he was also on Governor DeSantis’ “Re-opening Florida Task Force,” as part of the Healthcare Working Group. With that appointment, he was able to voice the needs of all Florida dentists.

 Our FDA website, www.floridadental.org, is replete with information, on the virus, how to reopen our practices, and even how to access financial assistance. For those who have not used the FDA website, please remember it is a great tool to help us with all sorts of information. FDA staff has done an admirable job keeping us up-to-date with the changes. Our own CFDDA website, www.cfdda.org, emails, and newsletters have kept us apprised of updates and changes.

 As you now know, Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-112, permitted our practices to resume elective procedures starting May 4, 2020, with the proviso that we could supply our own practices with the personal protective equipment we need to safely see patients. Our ADA Political Action Committee (Mike Graham, the senior VP of ADPAC and the Washington Governmental Affairs office) was very instrumental in moving us from 7th on the list of essential providers to 4th on the FEMA list. With that advance, the ADA, working with state and local dental associations, was given an allotment of 3M-made KN95 masks from the FEMA national office to dispense to dentists across the country.

 The ADA based the distribution of KN95 masks on whether states were broadly open and had not received PPE from other sources. They utilized survey information, as well as data provided to the ADA’s State Government Affairs Department, to prioritize the dissemination of the available PPE. And Florida qualified for that allotment. As a member of the ADA, the FDA, and CFDDA, you should have received an email around June 3rd, offering KN95 masks for the cost of shipping and handling. If you have not requested masks from the ADA, and would like to get them, the ADA is still receiving masks weekly from FEMA, and you may still apply for an allotment.

 That’s definitely a plus of being part of organized dentistry! Many dentists are struggling with their regular suppliers to get the PPE their offices need and as members of organized dentistry, we get up-to-date information, and even qualify for FEMA masks!

 Our usual FDC (Florida Dental Convention) held in June was to be a combination meeting with the ADA which was scheduled for October 15-18. The ADA made the difficult decision not to go ahead with an in-person meeting after “extensive research, careful deliberation and feedback from our members and past attendees.” They are exploring virtual options and will keep us posted as the planning goes forward.

 As this public health emergency wanes, we may have more regulations put on our practices. Our ADA/FDA/CFDDA publications and emails will keep us informed as to these changes. One change that is already in effect is the installation of an amalgam separator; please remember this has to be completed by July 14, 2020. For more complete information, check the FDA website, www.floridadental.org, there is a specific tab for the Amalgam Separator Rule. There are also numerous posters that are required to be displayed in the workplace; along with the many federal and state laws that require dental offices, like other employers, to conspicuously post up to a dozen notices in locations accessible to employees. As a practicing dentist, it can be hard to keep up with all the rules and regulations — that’s where your membership works for you. “The Florida Dental Association has done all the dirty work to provide our members access to free ways to comply — no need to spend hundreds of dollars to purchase forms from an outside group. Depending on the number of employees in your practice, you may need all or some the posters listed on this chart.” (See Floridadental.org)

 It is also of note that on a survey conducted by the FDA to both members and non-members, our members had mostly positive words that were associated with the virus … e.g., concerned, optimistic, hopeful, cautious, stressed, and good. Non-members had more negative connotations to the virus, e.g., concerned, worried, anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, scared. Perhaps that’s because members of organized dentistry do not feel so isolated and have more access to pertinent information? Whatever the reason, being a part of the ADA, FDA, and CFDDA definitely has its advantages!

 We have a long path to traverse before we get back to Pre- COVID-19, but with each other’s help and with the guidance we get from our parent organizations, we will get there.

Thank you again for the opportunity to represent the Central Florida District Dental Association, and may you all stay healthy, safe, and dedicated to the well-being of our patients.