May 13, 2020
An update/clarification phone conference was held by the Pennsylvania Department of Health on May 13, 2020 at 11am
in regards to PA DOH Dental Guidelines released and dated May 8, 2020. Representatives from the Department of State
were also on this call. Key points include:
• The DOH does NOT recommend “routine cleanings” to be done at this time
o This ensures preservation of limited PPE
o This reduces the potential spread of the virus
o Example: If a patient must have a prophylaxis for clearance for chemotherapy, that procedure can move
forward. A “routine” prophylaxis outside of a situation such as this should NOT be done
o Validation of this guidance can be found on recordings of Dr. Levine’s televised briefing on May 8, 2020
that can be found on the DOH website
• These guidelines are in effect as of when they were released on May 8, 2020
• The guidelines are statewide. All counties, regardless of the Governor’s “color” designation
• Clinical best judgment should be exercised and procedures to be done if irreversible damage will occur, with
consideration given to the number of cases in the particular area and ensuring necessary PPE is available and
• When the CDC guidelines and PA DOH guidelines are in conflict, the PA DOH guidelines should be followed
• The PA State Board of Dentistry has the ability to discipline violations in infection control guidelines as
“unprofessional conduct”. Immediate license suspensions can occur if it poses an immediate and clear danger
to the public. The Department of State stated that violation may put licenses in jeopardy.
• The Department of State has an avenue for processing complaints. They should not be reported to the PA State
Board of Dentistry or to board members themselves. Complaints should be reported through the
https://www.pals.pa.gov/#/page/filecomplaint web page.
• The DOH is creating a fact sheet for dental patients to help them understand this process
• The DOH is sharing information on this topic on their social media pages, to help provide clarity
• A return to “routine dentistry” is not yet safe and cannot yet occur, however necessary procedures that need to
be done to avoid irreversible damage should be performed. It is important to preserve PPE, reduce the
possibility of transmission of the virus.
Linda Straub-Bruce, RDH, BSEd, PHDHP
President, Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists’ Association
May 6, 2020 – Frequently Asked Questions – Answered! PLEASE SHARE!
- Is there a date set for elective dental procedures to resume in Pennsylvania?
- No. There is no date set for the state or any individual counties. We are to be following Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines at this time and are under the March 26, 2020 documents stating ONLY emergency care is permitted at this time. Keep current on the DOH guidelines at: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Dental-Care.aspx?fbclid=IwAR1tBga-QdbvCgb9qnsZWuswY0rLM3Mc5KWefoH7kq68NeBa-l_nXMJk2ps
- My county is going to the yellow phase on May 8th, does that mean I am returning to work that day?
- No. Regardless of the color phase of your county, we follow Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines as referenced in the above question. This is in force until a revised document is released.
- When the DOH releases their next set of guidelines, will elective dental care be permitted?
- No one knows exactly what the next set of guidelines will include and no presumptions or assumptions should be made. It is understandably difficult during these unprecedented times to have patience in awaiting the guidelines, but nothing can be predicted or guaranteed until they are released and we see what they outline.
- Will the DOH give us advance notice when the guidelines change to include elective procedures, so that we can prepare to return to work?
- We do not know. However, when the guidelines change to include elective procedures it is not a mandate to begin them on the day they are permitted. You must follow proper guidelines, have your office protocols in place and proper PPE available. You should return to these procedures only after all of those items are in place, not just the guidelines.
- Hygienists in many states have already returned to work. Why hasn’t this happened in PA?
- Every state is experiencing different levels of coronavirus cases. The DOH in PA is monitoring our particular data to make the best decisions for the health and wellness of the dental hygiene community and the patients that we serve. When they feel that the time has come that it is safe for us to return, they will respond in accordance.
- My county in PA has had one case of Covid-19 this entire time and it was resolved and we have no active cases. Why is my county prohibited from returning to work?
- As referenced above, the DOH is meticulously analyzing data (which takes a tremendous amount of time) to make the best, educated decisions moving forward. They are taking a regional approach at reopening PA and are looking at these low case counties to move them to the yellow phase in advance of counties that have a higher case load. Since there are no restrictions that prevent people from traveling from county to county (or “hot spots” to “cold spots”), those counties cannot simply shift to the green phase without first going to yellow to ensure mitigation efforts are not lost and cases increase.
- I am experiencing confusion and anxiety reading so many rumors and misinformation on social media. What can I do about it?
- Please continue to go to credible and reliable sources for your information. Hygienists are very educated individuals and we know how to continue with life long learning. If you see something, say something! We are all in this together and misinformation doesn’t help anyone. Reply to posts and redirect them to the factual information that is available from organizations representing the dental hygiene profession and agencies that establish our guidelines. SHARE THIS POST! A list of credible links appears below.
- Where do I direct questions or concerns?
- If you have dental hygiene questions related to COVID-19, please share them with us at RDHCovidInfo@adha.net. A dedicated email address has been set up so that members of the dental hygiene community can provide input to the ADHA Task Force on Return to Work at email@example.com . You can contact PDHA at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Q: Does my employer have to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and who pays for it?
A: Many OSHA standards require employers to provide personal protective equipment, when it is necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. With few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment when it is used to comply with OSHA standards. For additional information on PPE, refer to OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment Web page.
Q: What if my employer will not provide proper PPE?
A: According to OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, “employers are obligated to provide their workers with PPE needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs. The types of PPE required during a COVID-19 outbreak will be based on the risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 while working and job tasks that may lead to exposure. Workers, including those who work within 6 feet of patients known to be, or suspected of being, infected with SARS-CoV-2 and those performing aerosol-generating procedures, need to use respirators.”
You have a right to a safe workplace. You can file a confidential complaint with OSHA to request an inspection of your workplace if you believe there is a serious hazard or if you believe your employer is not following OSHA standards. Learn more about filing a complaint at OSHA’s website.
Waived and Suspended Licensing Regulations
- The Pennsylvania Department of State requested, and Governor Wolf approved, several waivers/suspensions related to the clinical licensure examinations for both dentists and dental hygienists who have just graduated or are about to graduate: https://www.dos.pa.gov/Documents/2020-04-24-Summary-Dentist-Dental-Hygienist-Waivers.pdf
- The Department requested a waiver or temporary suspension of the State Board of Dentistry’s regulations and statutory provisions related to CPR and BSL certification: https://www.dos.pa.gov/Documents/2020-04-07-Summary-CPR-Dentist-Massage-Therapy.pdf
- Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to suspend restrictions on distance-learning for continuing-education requirements for certain licensed professionals: https://www.dos.pa.gov/Documents/2020-03-22-Continuing-Education-Suspensions.pdf
- The in-person Annual Conference scheduled for New Orleans has been cancelled. The first-ever ADHA Virtual Conference will be held Friday, June 26 – Sunday, June 28 and you can learn more at https://www.adha2020.org/
- Remember to visit ADHA’s Covid-19 Resource Center often, as new information is added regularly. There are links to videos on Covid-19 and unemployment on this page, as well as FAQs: https://www.adha.org/covid19
- ADHA has created a Task Force on Return to Work which will review available COVID-19 guidance documents and policies, including but not limited to information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA), and American Dental Association (ADA). The Task Force will provide recommendations to the ADHA Board of Trustees, including guidance for dental hygienists on returning to work. A dedicated email address has been set up so that members of the dental hygiene community can provide input to the Task Force at email@example.com .
- ADHA’s Covid-19 Q&A section continues to expand. You can submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .
List of Resources:
Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists’ Association: http://pdhaonline.org/
Pennsylvania Department of Health Dental Provider page: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Dental-Care.aspx
Pennsylvania Department of Health REVISED Guidance on COVID-19 for Dental Health Care Personnel in Pennsylvania dated March 26, 2020 document link: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/Guidance%20on%20COVID-19%20for%20Dental%20Health%20Care%20Personnel%20in%20Pennsylvania.pdf
Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry: https://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/Dentistry/Pages/default.aspx
CDC Guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html
OSHA Guidance: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
Governor’s Plan for PA: https://www.governor.pa.gov/plan-for-pennsylvania/
PA Coalition for Oral Health: https://paoralhealth.org/ (they have a very robust Covid-19 resource section)
ADA Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit: https://pages.ada.org/return-to-work-toolkit-american-dental-association?utm_campaign=covid-19-Return-to-Work-Toolkit&utm_source=cpsorg-alert-bar&utm_medium=cpsalertbar-virus&utm_content=covid-19-interim-return-to-work
Pennsylvania Unemployment COVID-19 FAQs: https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx
Pennsylvania Department of Labor: https://www.dli.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx
United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 Control and Prevention resource: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html
OSAP Infection Control Webinar and Information: https://www.osap.org/page/COVID-19?page=GuideInternationalCOVID-19 FAQs
Guidance on COVID-19 for Dental Health Care Personnel in Pennsylvania
Click on image below to enlarge or download pdf here
Please contact the Pennsylvania of Department of Health with questions or concerns.
Their website is https://www.health.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists’ Association
News and Information
ADHA’s 2020 Awards Program is a way to honor and recognize our members dedication to the dental hygiene profession (in various aspects of the dental hygiene world: clinical, education, public health, research, etc.). Apply now for your chance to be recognized by your colleagues and receive funding to attend the ADHA’s 2020 Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA.
The Southwest Component is in the process of organizing its committees and chair positions for the 2020 year. It is searching for any interested members to serve on its various committees and fill two vacant chair positions.
PDHA Lobby Day! Legislation is important. It provides a platform for the growth of our scope of practice and a means to protect our license. This is the invisible benefit of membership.
Five-year-old patient Alex Miller has pictures of his teeth taken by Karen Omniewski, a public health dental hygiene practitioner with the Erie County Department of Health, during a teledentistry visit in Corry last week.
FEBRUARY 13 - Sealant Saturday — St. Joe’s Dental Clinic of Penn State Health System | 6th & Walnut Streets in Reading, PA 19601