This month, I again cannot pick just one Wonder Woman to recognize from our team. Every day lately I am in awe at how amazing these women and men are that I get to work with. They all deserve a major award, yet unfortunately they will have to settle for a heartfelt THANK YOU in our newsletter.
The closure due to COVID-19 has been tough. The reopening has been tougher. I started the year realizing 2020 was my 15-year anniversary of starting Eggert Family Dentistry. I had hopes of grandeur, thinking maybe we could rent out the Vadnais Commons, have a band and food and get our patients and team together to CELEBRATE! It has been a lot of work over the years, but we were “making it.” We had a lot to celebrate.
Then the world turned on a dime. I was told I had to close my business. But, not really close, I had to stay available for emergencies so that people would stay out of the emergency room, but I couldn’t run my business how I need to in order to pay my employees. This meant that nearly all of our wonderful team members had to be put on a temporary lay-off and we had to rely on the government and unemployment benefits to take care of their families.
Dr. Jeff and I did the best we could to address emergencies during the mandated closure. The CDC made it seem like we might die if we saw patients or we might be the reason someone else might die if we turned out to be an “asymptomatic carrier” of COVID-19. Unfortunately, dental disease just doesn’t stop because another disease takes priority. We dealt with a number of calls at all hours and saw people as needed. We’re still getting calls every weekend and even now that we’re back open, we’re finding it very difficult to keep up.
I had a patient ask me the other day “How was your vacation?” He meant during the closure. He meant well. He was just trying to make conversation. He did not mean to downplay the severity of what is happening. I unfortunately am so sensitive right now that I almost started crying as this nightmare has been the farthest thing from a vacation. Trying to keep a small business afloat during this has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do (and I’ve had 5 natural births!).
Our business is like a lot of other service-based industries. We rely on revenue coming in so we can keep up with our payment obligations. When there is no revenue coming in, there are still payment obligations. We have been lucky in that we have been able to secure some of the government-based aid options. We have applied for all that is available and time will tell how it all pans out. But, even with the government help, the future is unpredictable and the work never stops. Luckily, we had been saving, but not saving for a rainy day like COVID-19, saving for big equipment purchases, for things that are expensive to replace and upgrade. Highly specialized dental equipment wears out over time and is necessary to keep us up and running, but unfortunately comes at a high cost. With revenues down over 33% so far for 2020, we are having to make some difficult choices when it comes to maintenance and upgrades. We’ve also been working to talk to the dental insurance companies about how their reimbursements haven’t been keeping up over the last many years and that if they won’t raise the allowed amounts for our dental procedures, we won’t be able to provide the service you all deserve. We are currently in a situation where many dental procedures require a 40% adjustment of our fees. With the challenges we face due to COVID-19, adjustments like that cannot be justified.
We don’t want your sympathy, but we would love your empathy and support. This has been amazingly draining on small businesses like ours. I feel extremely lucky that we are even open. I feel extremely lucky that patients are “mostly” scheduling. It definitely could be worse. I called to see about going to my favorite restaurant the other day and they still aren’t open. The governor gave them the “ok” to open over six weeks ago and unfortunately, they must not be able to justify the expenses they face to be open.
How can you help? Schedule to come see us, commit to your appointment and show up, accept that we may be running behind and that we will give you the same attention we gave the patient the hour before should you need it too, accept that we need to collect your credit card information at this time prior to your appointment, accept that things are different, but we are doing the very best we can for you, and please be nice!
Our main goal is to provide you with the same care and attention that we always have. We appreciate you as our patients and we look forward to again serving you soon!