Reopening Dental Offices for Routine Care Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Report From Palestine
Kateeb, Elham T.
Juniedi, Raed N.
Warren, John J.
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Objectives: This study reports on the readiness of Palestinian dentists to reopen their practices for routine care during the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Methods: A cross-sectional study targeted dentists in the West Bank area of Palestine using an online survey during the first 2 weeks of May 2020. Questions mainly asked about dentists’ perception of the risks of COVID-19, readiness to reopen their clinics for routine care, and the level of confidence in dealing with patients suspected of having COVID-19. Results: A total of 488 dentists completed the survey. Almost 60% believed that they were not ready to reopen their practices. Almost 13% had “no confidence” in dealing with patients with COVID-19, while 64% had “little to moderate” confidence. Confidence was correlated negatively with increased fear of becoming infected (r = -0.317, P < .0001) and positively with years of practice (r = 1.7, P < .0001). Dentists who received updated training on infection control or on COVID-19 reported higher levels of confidence (x2 = 53.8, P < .0001, x2 = 26.8, P < .0001, respectively). Although 88% preferred not to treat patients with COVID-19, 40% were willing to provide care to them. Almost 75% reported that they were already facing financial hardships and could not survive financially until the end of the current month. Conclusions: Ethical and financial reasons were the main drivers for dentists in this sample to reopen their practices for routine care. Data from this study highlights the fragility of private dental practice in emergency situations. Ethical, health, and financial challenges that emerged during COVID-19 require dentists to adapt and be better prepared to face future crises.