Hurricane Ian was one of the five strongest hurricanes to hit the United States. As dental practices and patients rebuild and recover, the dental community has rallied behind them.
By Genni Burkhart
Hurricane Ian hit Florida's west coast on September 28th with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as a Category 4 storm – tying the record for the fifth strongest hurricane ever to hit the United States.
Dentists in Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina have been severely impacted. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports state dental associations in affected areas have received devastating destruction updates.
As expected, the dental community has rallied to aid dental practices and patients in Florida and the Carolinas. We'll discuss the actions taken by dental organizations, as well as ways in which individuals can contribute.
The American Dental Association
ADA President Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., stated: "Time and time again, our dental community has demonstrated its generous and compassionate spirit in the face of tragedy." He continues, "I saw it come to life in the darkest days of the pandemic, in the historical aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and during other disasters in between. We are more than colleagues — we are a professional family that looks out for each other and is stronger together, especially when times get tough."
According to an October 5th article on ADA.org, initial reports state that dental colleagues in hurricane-affected areas have experienced a varied level of impact. While the storm caused the most severe damage on Florida's southwestern coast, other states were affected as it moved north across the eastern U.S. coast. Additionally, the need for dental aid will rise as the full extent of the damages is assessed.
While their contacts in Puerto Rico haven't had reports of widespread damage to dental practices, news reports indicate the island was struggling to resume full electrical power over two weeks after the storm made landfall on September 18th.
The ADA has various resources to help dentists with disaster recovery and emergency planning you can find here. The ADA also recommends that those interested in supporting relief efforts do so through disaster relief funds in the hardest-hit areas.
The Florida Dental Association
Drew Eason, Executive Director of the Florida Dental Association, says the association has thus far helped over 100 dentists whose homes or offices were damaged by Hurricane Ian. In addition, local and state leaders are making wellness calls and anticipate more communication from dentists once power is fully restored in all areas.
To assist Florida dentists affected by Hurricane Ian, the Florida Dental Association Foundation's Disaster Fund provides emergency assistance grants for dentists' immediate needs, such as lodging, food, etc.
Henry Schein Hotline
Henry Schein Inc., a primary provider of clinical, technology, and supply chain solutions for dental and medical practitioners, opened a toll-free number for their customers (1-800-999-9729). This hotline intends to support dentists and physicians who've experienced operational, logistical, and financial issues resulting from Hurricane Ian.
This hotline is open 24/7 and provides real-time assistance from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. EST This hotline is also available year-round to provide continued relief to all customers preparing and recovering from disasters.
DentaQuest Donates to Florida Recovery
On October 4th, DentaQuest officially announced a $500,000 contribution to the Florida Disaster Fund. In addition, they're sending oral healthcare kits to relief centers across Florida and will 100% match all employee donations to Hurricane Ian relief efforts for the entire month of October.
Oral Healthcare for those Impacted by Hurricane Ian
Health centers and free clinics in Florida are still reopening their doors in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Some organizations didn't close and weren't affected by the disaster, while others simply operated in different locations or deployed mobile units.
According to an article on DirectRelief.com dated October 4th, the top concerns among members in Florida are:
- Structural damage to buildings.
- Loss of staff time funding.
- Lack of power and water.
- Issues around temperature-controlled medications such as insulin and vaccines.
Direct Relief is an international aid organization that provides humanitarian and disaster relief. As a result, they're well-equipped to respond fast and effectively to get medical resources where they're most needed. In fact, as of October 8th, they've completed 126 shipments of emergency medical supplies to 58 healthcare providers in Florida.
Direct Relief has a designated campaign for Hurricane Ian relief and recovery efforts you can find here.
Author: With over 12 years as a published journalist, editor, and writer Genni Burkhart's career has spanned politics, healthcare, law, business finance, technology, and news. She resides on the western shores of the idyllic Puget Sound where she works as the Editor in Chief for the Incisor at DOCS Education out of Seattle, WA.