COVID-19 and the Dental Industry
By: Harlene Stevens, CPA
Yesterday was a tough day for the dental community and as I wrote this email at 8 pm Monday evening, I knew that things may drastically change by Tuesday morning. The ADA and I understand the NJDA strongly recommends dentists postpone all elective procedures for the next 3 weeks. I have been in touch with several of my dental clients regarding COVID-19. Fortune Practice Management led a very informative ZOOM meeting yesterday and I am grateful to Ashley Suma from Fortune Practice Management for inviting me to participate.
You are all aware of the ADA recommendations. Most of you feel that there has not been enough guidance given to the dental community about how to handle the COVID-19 epidemic. In the morning, many of my clients had their offices open, by the afternoon most decided to close for a minimum of two weeks (to start). Some cities like Paterson, NJ have already made the decision for the dentists to close their offices.
These were some of the tough questions asked today. The answers and suggestions that I have are not necessarily my own, but I have gathered them from conversations with my clients and from the Fortune Management Zoom meeting.
The biggest concerns are the safety of the staff, patients and of course dentists and their families. The biggest question was related to employee payments. How do I pay employees? Some suggestions were:
• Allow employees to take their full PTO now upfront, and any additional time later in the year will be unpaid.
• Give one-week additional paid time and then the employees can take their PTO time available.
• Allow employees to take the PTO time earned to date and then furlough them until the end of the crisis
• For the first week keep the office open for office work and clean-up and then allow employees to take PTO
• It was agreed by almost all that I spoke with that after a period of time employees would apply for unemployment.
• There is a new sick leave mandate being proposed by the US House of Representatives. If that passes, employers with fewer than 500 employees will be mandated to provide sick days to employees as needed for a number of COVID-19 reasons (primarily illness, testing and care for a dependent). This has not been finalized.
For those dentists who are continuing to see patients, there were many new and enhanced protocols instituted in their offices.
• Take temperature of all patients (sterilized forehead) when they come into the office
• Have patients complete a questionnaire regarding their general health and recent travel
• Have clients wash hands prior to being seated
• Make sure all chairs are sanitized before seating a patient
• Throw away all magazines, reading material and pens
• Do not allow patients to use cell phones in the office
• Give patients a pre-rinse (H2O2) before treatment
• Stop using the cavitron for cleaning
• Only see emergency patients
• Investigate the use of Teledentistry while not seeing patients in the office
Get your Financials in Order
There is a concern with regards to having the cash flow to get through the crisis. Make sure your financials are up to date and discuss these concerns with your tax professional. If you need a loan, make sure your paperwork is ready. Although the Fed cut the interest rates to zero, there is no clear-cut strategy as to how that will trickle down to those in need. Some ways to save money now are to defer your 401(k) contributions, and perhaps adjust your estimated payment especially the one due on April 15th.
We are waiting for the IRS to tell us there is a 90-day delay for the April 15th filings, but so far that has not happened.
On behalf of myself and the Nisivoccia family, we are here to help you. Please call us if you have any questions as we move through this very difficult time.
Harlene Stevens, CPA
973.298.8500 or firstname.lastname@example.org