JONESBORO, Ark- Since March personal protective equipment has been hard to come by due to COVID-19 with states trying to secure bulk amounts of PPE for their health care workers.
In turn this is proven costly as dental offices are now struggling to afford the limited resources they need.
“Of course, there is a big shortage of PPE. Before we were just wearing level one mask, you know gloves and mask and gowns and now we have to switch our gowns in between each patient,” says Dr. Misee Harris, of Children’s Dental Clinic of Jonesboro. “We have to wear certain mask now. So, we have to be conservative because It’s not really available to us. We just can’t buy it in bulk.”
Dr. Harris says due to the PPE shortage her office has had to be cautious with prioritizing what patients they are seeing.
She says dental offices were asked to donate their PPE to area hospitals, something that was difficult for Dr. Harris to do, as her office stayed open the whole time to serve people with dental emergencies.
Dr. Harris says she did not expect the shortage and was shocked by the limited amount of PPE that was available for dentist.
“A lot of dentist like to collect PPE, so it’s really been tough I mean to get some of these items in,” says Dr. Harris. “Masks went from us being able to get a box of mask for like ten bucks to forty bucks. So, everything tripled, quadrupled and then somethings you just can’t get at all.”
Dr. Harris says she is working with multiple vendors to purchase the PPE she needs, and while her office is still only seeing emergencies and surgery follow up appointments, she says she won’t turn anyone away who is in pain.