Gentle Dentistry Team –
We are in our sixth week of shutdown and still no opening date in clear sight, unfortunately. The latest we are hearing is mid-May to mid-June. We’re as anxious as you are to be back taking care of patients. Yesterday, the Governor’s statement on when he would begin opening up the state included “having a clear-cut plan to test, trace, isolate and then build plans of social distancing”. So far, the State has not published a plan.
It is great to see so many of you joining us on the Gentle Dentistry Dream Team Facebook page so we can keep up with each other, at least electronically. If you haven’t joined us yet, do so. You don’t want to miss Dr. Atme’s inventive PPE solutions. 😊
April Medical and Benefits Insurance Employee Premiums
Thank you for getting your April insurance premiums paid via Venmo or a check to Charlie Johnston. For those of you that wanted to continue your insurance and paid your premium, your insurance is in force.
Where We’re At As A Company
We can’t thank our Emergency Response Team enough, or often enough, for their selfless dedication to our patients in providing Teledentistry triage and emergency care in-clinic when needed. The Teledentistry team has expanded to include Dr. Kinney, Dr. Smith, Dr. Boyd and Dr. Kumar. They are covering shifts Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM and weekends 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Dr. Atme and Tanya Iverson are providing emergency care at NHQ and Dr. Park and Jose Reyes are covering Hutchinson. We are very grateful.
The calls from patients needing services are non-stop and frankly, difficult, as they express their frustration with not being able to access the care they want and their concern over the situation they are in. Admittedly, it’s hard on our Care Team led by Kristin Thompson, Katie Will, Rachel Seplica, Kari Rarick and Brooke Lemke. The hours are very long seven days a week. They never let up and we are so proud of them and thankful for their caring attitude toward our patients. Kristin has been going 24/7.
The difficult news we received yesterday is that Delta Dental is not covering the costs of Teledentistry and triage at the rate we were first granted. In fact, they notified us yesterday that they were “taking back” about 2/3 of the reimbursement we had received to date which had allowed us to pay our staff. This was a blow, to say the least.
We really hate to share this news as it means we will not be able to contribute to your May insurance premiums, and we will need to furlough more of our Team.
Please know that we are doing everything possible to keep providing Emergency Care and keep us moving forward. Our bank tells us we are “in the queue” for the PPP Relief Package from the federal government to help us with payroll, rent and utilities when we can reopen. That’s really good news – now, we all need to put pressure on our Congressional leaders to pass the legislation to make the funds available.
We are in regular communication with the ADA and MDA and MN Board of Dentistry urging them to seek help for the dental industry, the same as hospitals and medical services are receiving.
May Insurance Premiums
We are really sorry and sad to have to share this news. Because of the now very limited reimbursement for Teledentistry, we will not be able to cover the company portion of your May premiums for benefits insurance. Frankly, this is a hard hit, we know. But please also know that we are doing everything in our power to find ways to keep revenue coming in to pay staff who are providing emergency care and keeping the company running.
There will be a couple of options for you for insurance coverage going forward until we can reopen.
Gentle Dentistry Benefits Insurance Plans
If you would like to stay on the GD Benefits plan, you can. You will need to pay the full cost of the premiums for the month of May. The cost will be the premium you would normally pay for the two pay periods, plus the cost of the contribution GD would have made for the two pay periods. Your insurance will remain in force with no changes.
You will receive an email from Charlie Johnston later this week with the total cost for May so you can plan and budget. The premium will need to be paid by May 15 for May coverage.
If you decide to drop your GD benefits now and reinstate them when we re-open, you can do that. Be aware that when you reinstate, your benefits will “start over” just as they do at the first of the year.
MNSure State Insurance
Because of the situation, you can explore your option to get on MNSure state insurance. Below is the link to their website which has detailed information. Regrettably, we can’t advise you on the best option for you and your family.
Don’t delay in checking out this option as enrollment can take some time.
This is the link for Qualifying Events – lost-coverage. GD will need to provide a letter of insurance loss as well as Preferred One to be submitted within 60 Days of application. This does not hold up the application process. Let Charlie know what you decide, and we will provide the necessary documentation when needed.
This is the link to estimate costs and preview plans before deciding:
Another option is to consider insurance with a private carrier. There are many resources and you can find information online for companies that provide medical, dental, vision, short-term disability, etc.
As you likely have been hearing, when we return to work, we will be initiating expanded infection control protocols. Rosa Davis and Kelly Solt have the situation well in hand with new SOPs, new training, and a supply of the needed PPE equipment including face shields, N95 masks, and gowns. We will be organizing training times prior to opening so you are well prepared.
Dentrix 11 Software Upgrade
Before the shutdown, we had committed to upgrading our Dentrix operating system from 7.09 to 11.0. The download of the software is complete, and we had planned to begin the online training process with our Super User group who will ultimately train all staff prior to us returning to work.
With the drastic reduction of reimbursement for the Teledentistry services, we have to put this on hold for now.
When we can move forward, we’ll be organizing the trainings in a safe and efficient way, so we’re not gathered in large groups. More details to come. We can tell you that Dentrix 11 is a much improved and robust new option that we’re confident you will like.
While we’ve been down, we’ve had the benefit to examine many aspects of our business and operating protocols as our Leadership Team has been hands on 24/7. We’re convinced we can move more quickly to our goal of Premier Practice and Best Place to Work with some changes to protocol and centralizing more functions to free up our front office team to focus on the patient experience and assisting our clinical teams with advancing treatment plans.
If you have ideas you’d like to share, we’re very open to it. Drop us a note or feel free to call Kelly, Rosa, Kristin, Charlie or Bette.
We’ll keep you updated as quickly as we learn more about our possible re-opening date. In the meantime –
Stay Safe Stay Well Stay Home
Charlie Johnston Bette Fenton