Dental Safety Net Providers’ Experiences with COVID-19 Should Inform Dental Pandemic Preparedness

Published 02/10/2022

Researchers from CareQuest Institute contributed to this study about dental safety net providers’ self-described experiences delivering care in the early stages of the pandemic. Uncertainty about the COVID-19 virus caused a significant decline in dental service delivery and illuminated the need to bolster public health emergency preparedness and response (PHEPR) in dentistry. 

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are important sites for studying PHEPR because they serve more than 5 million patients who have experienced a greater proportion of COVID-19 infections and unmet dental needs due to pandemic-driven delays in care. Common themes and lessons learned among dental safety net providers in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic include:  

  • Unpredictability of the virus caused concern, but it also deepened collaboration to help providers through a challenging time. 
  • Service delivery prioritized safety, flexibility, and respect for patient and provider autonomy. 
  • Stronger infection control and telehealth are pandemic-driven changes that will likely be long-lasting. 

Read the article in the Journal of the American Dental Association 

Learn more about the unique experiences of FQHCs during the COVID-19 pandemic in a companion essay “Dental Safety Net Providers’ Perspectives on Adapting Service Delivery During the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Co-authored by CareQuest Institute, the essay is part of a monograph on the JADA+ website documenting COVID-19's impact on dentistry. The authors share quotations from in-depth interviews to tell the story in providers’ own words about how they adapted to the crisis. 

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