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Member Update 4.27.20

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you and your families and friends are well. As you have likely heard, Gov. Abbott announced the timeline for reopening dental practices today via Executive Order 19, which loosens restriction on health care professionals, including dentists. Dentists are permitted to re-open their practices on May 1, but must follow safety standards set out by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE). We expect TSBDE to promulgate emergency rules dictating these minimum standards ASAP.

Last week, the Governor’s Strike Force to Reopen Texas contacted TAPD seeking recommendations concerning the timing and appropriateness of returning to practice. TAPD submitted a “best practice plan” for a safe reopening of dentistry. We have sent this plan to TSBDE as well.

In addition to this, I’d like to share some of the issues TAPD has actively addressed during the Covid-19 pandemic. As soon as the impact of this crisis on our patients, families and practices became clear, TAPD began working with the various agencies, boards, dental schools and the Governor’s Office to help facilitate a safe and reasonable policy for providing dental care to our population. The initial response was to establish parameters for treating emergencies and ensure the various regulators understood the need to provide truly emergent care. Both TSBDE and the Governor’s Office clearly stated that we should continue to provide emergent care.

Additionally, we sent a letter to TSBDE requesting an extension of CE, PALS and CPR requirements. TSBDE extended license expiration dates by three months for dentists, hygienists and dental assistants who were due for renewal in March, April and May of 2020.

TAPD also contacted MCNA, Dentaquest and TMHP to advocate for retrospective reviews of claims when we begin opening our practices to expedite procedures and avoid further delaying care. This process is ongoing and we will update you when we have more information to share.  We will also be asking the MCOs to raise our reimbursement fees to cover extra expenses associated with PPE. 

TAPD has been hard at work with literally hundreds of hours of meetings and communications with medical and dental specialists and our elected officials. The critical feedback we received from many of you has been instrumental in this process. I understand we are all eager to get back to work. Currently, our virtual TAPD General Assembly meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 15 at 1:00pm. Because the practice of dentistry will again be open at that time, we will adjust the scheduled meeting to accommodate the return to work. We will send out a new date and time very soon. It is more critical now than ever for us to have robust participation in our annual meeting.

This has been a difficult time for us all, but please know that our primary concern continues to be your safety, as well as that of your staff and patients. We know the pandemic is far from over and we will face obstacles moving forward. We are committed to continuing to advocate the best possible care for Texas children and for all of you.

Refugio Gonzalez III, DDS
President, Texas Academy of Pediatric Dentistry