Subtitle: A Rant with No Pictures
Kat had a toothache and recently visited the dentist we trusted in Campbellsville, KY. X-rays were taken but none of the usual suspects were found, let alone rounded up. She was given a ‘scrip for Amoxicillin, which she took on their schedule. Kat felt better for a few days but I soon heard the baby aspirin bottle rattling again.
Now that we are settled in Top of Georgia Airstream Park for a couple of months I have called five dental offices within 20 miles, all of which carry Google Review ratings of over 4.5, with three of them 4.8 or better, all with several dozen reviews. The conversations begin with “Are you accepting new patients?” (Most dentists appear to be; many patients are still afraid of anything that up close and personal.) Then comes the make or break query, which has nothing to do with prices. “Are your personnel who work in the room with a patient vaccinated for Covid-19?”
The dentist in C-ville had her receptionist try telling me “We don’t ask our patients that question, and they shouldn’t ask us.” I cancelled my cleaning appointment seconds later.
My first Georgia call was answered with “It’s a HIPAA violation to reveal that information.” I asked if she lived in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s congressional district, getting a response of “Who’s she?” Then I informed that liar that HIPAA protected patients but in no way prevented dentists or doctors from using their vaccination status as a marketing tool to attract patients. “We believe in the privacy of our staff”, to which my reply was “I believe I will go elsewhere.”
The second call told me “99% of our staff is vaccinated, but I don’t know specifically which ones.” Without a record of who’s taken the shots and who hasn’t, what is that math based on? “In other words, this dental office has no requirement for staff vaccinations, right?” “True, but we wear all the PPE – gloves, masks, and face shields over the masks.” Wouldn’t vaccinations make it even safer?” “Maybe, but people have a right to privacy!” Sorry kid, the ones who work in my mouth don’t.
The third insisted that I speak with the office communications officer. I did, and after much prodding, the younger dentist admitted they had no policy requiring Covid vaccinations, and that they did not track staff vaccinations. I thanked him for his candor (reluctant, but honest), and observed “If your clinic could post on your website All Our Dentists and Staff Are Covid-19 Vaccinated, you’d have more business than you want. “This is Georgia. If it’s that important to you, you’d likely be happier elsewhere.” My health is that important, and you gotta come up with a policy better than ‘Ignorance is bliss’. But you are so right: I deserve safer dental care.
The last call wasn’t made. That website had an Ask Me a Question portal, so I asked away. New patients- check. Covid vaccinations – not required of patients. How about dentists and staff- we do not disclose that information.
I’ll ask you: have you been to a dental office in the last 18 months? Do you know whether your care givers took this small step to become safer? Before you go again, inquire about their vaccination status. You have a right to ask, and it outweighs their right to privacy, at least if they value your health. Your life could depend on it. And me? I’m going to get that old time religion about flossing.