Adult Medicaid Dental Benefits Begin July 1

Effective July 1, Medicaid-enrolled adults, ages 21 and over, will have comprehensive dental benefits through the Virginia Smiles for Children program for the first time in Virginia. For more information for providers, patients and community partners, please visit Virginia Health Catalyst. To view the VDHA Frequently Asked Questions document specifically for dental hygienists, click here.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governor 4/22/2021

As Vaccinations Rise, Governor Northam Announces Expanded Capacity, Social Gathering Limits to Begin May 15: More than half of all adults in Virginia have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Governor Northam made the announcement in a new video message.

COVID-19 Vaccinator Legislation Information

The General Assembly passed emergency legislation to expand the pool of COVID-19 vaccinators in Virginia. The Governor signed the legislation on February 15, 2021, when it became effective immediately.

VHDA will continue to update members as information becomes available.

UPDATE:

We have received additional clarifying information from the Administration as of 2/19/21.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Vaccine Provider Intent Form referenced in our previous alert is designed for practices and offices that are interested in receiving and administering the COVID-19 vaccine when available.

Individual healthcare professionals interested in being able to administer the vaccine can do the following, while the new vaccinator program and all the registration, training, and supervisory details are still being determined:

You may also choose to wait until the new vaccinator program is established.


VDA & VDHA Letter to Governor Northam – We Can Help Vaccination Effort

Recently, VDHA and the Virginia Dental Association sent a jointly signed letter to our Governor, outlining our position on the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan. In short, we asked that the state exercise its authority to call on dental hygienists as "non-traditional vaccinators" as an emergency measure, as we are eager to help with the rollout and administration of this important health care service.

Please read the letter for yourself. Thank you for your continued efforts to keep Virginians healthy and safe.

CDC updates guidance for dental settings during COVID-19 - 8/4/2020

Virginia is the First State to Employ Workplace COVID Standards 7/23/20

VIRGINIA FIRST STATE IN NATION TO EMPLOY WORKPLACE COVID STANDARDS

This week, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry unveiled an Emergency Temporary Standard aimed at keeping employees safe from COVID-19 while on the job and stopping the spread of the virus.  Per the Standard, which is expected to go into effect the week of July 27 and will expire six months thereafter unless extended, all employers must:

  • Assess their workplaces for hazards and assess the risk of exposure to the virus posed by job tasks
  • Encourage employees to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID
  • Develop and implement policies and procedures for employees to report symptoms of COVID-19
  • Treat employees reporting symptoms of the virus as “suspected to be infected” with COVID until/unless another diagnosis has been made
  • Remove persons known or suspected to be infected from the workplace and implement return-to-work standards based on testing, symptom resolution, and/or time.
  • Establish a HIPAA-compliant system to receive positive COVID test results from employees
  • Report a positive test to other employees working at that location within 24 hours (without revealing identity of positive employee)
  • Inform their landlord of the positive test.  Commercial landlords must notify all tenants that a worker in the building has tested positive for the virus.
  • Inform the Virginia Department of Health of the positive test and notify the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry if three or more employees test positive within a 14-day period
  • Promote physical distancing by limiting or staggering access to common areas, encourage the use of face coverings, provide adequate supplies for sanitizing surfaces and hands
  • Ensure cleaning and sanitizing of common areas and shared surfaces, workstations, tools, equipment and vehicles between shifts
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees when physical distancing and cleaning protocols are not feasible or sufficient to mitigate risks

In addition, the Standard classifies jobs by risk level.  The “very high” and “high” categories include health care workers, any person who deals with the biological specimens or corpses of those infected with COVID, and first responders, among others.  “Medium” risk jobs include those in the service industry, manufacturing, agriculture, and retail.  “Lower” risk jobs are those with limited exposure to the general public and can be accomplished through the use of telework, staggered scheduling, and social distancing.  Employers with jobs falling into the “very high,” “high” and “medium” risk categories must meet additional workplace safety requirements, including the use of face coverings, physical barriers, respiratory equipment, PPE, pre-shift symptom screening, and maintenance of adequate ventilation systems.  All employers in industries in the “very high” and “high” risk must have a written infectious disease response plan; employers in “medium” risk industries must do the same if they have over 11 employees.  All employers in these categories must provide their workers with training on COVID, its symptoms and transmission, and the use of PPE.

Failure to comply with the Standard’s directives exposes employers to fines and administrative enforcement actions by DOLI.  Additionally, employers are prohibited from discharging or otherwise discriminating against employees for exercising their rights under this Standard, including employees who raise reasonable concerns about COVID-related infection control to the employer, other employees, a government agency, or the public. 


ADA Return to Work Toolkit updated 7/23/20

Interim Guidelines to Practicing Dentistry During COVID-19 6/19/20

Dear VDHA Members,

VDHA and VDA have worked together to create and co-brand a revised "Interim Guidelines to Practicing Dentistry During COVID-19". Please download and refer to this document as you safely return to work, and share this important information with your practices and colleagues. 

VDHA is working for you and with you through these unprecedented times.

Be well and stay safe,


Tracey Martin, RDH, BSDH

VDHA President


Summary of Governor Northam’s Briefing on COVID-19 6/02/20

Greetings VDHA members,

Please download this summary document from the VDHA lobbyist company, Commonwealth Strategy Group. Our lobbyists have been providing our leadership team with updates after every address by the Governor, and we would like to share them as we receive them. As some of you may already know, the Governor has been providing regular updates throughout the pandemic on Monday/Wednesday/Friday afternoons. These documents summarize all information presented during these updates. 

I hope you will find this helpful as a reference guide. Thank you for your continued support and membership!

Tracey C. Martin, RDH, BSDH

VDHA President


Summary of Governor Northam's Briefing on COVID19 6-2-2020

Greetings VDHA members,

Please download this summary document from the VDHA lobbyist company, Commonwealth Strategy Group. Our lobbyists have been providing our leadership team with updates after every address by the Governor, and we would like to share them as we receive them. As some of you may already know, the Governor has been providing regular updates throughout the pandemic on Monday/Wednesday/Friday afternoons. These documents summarize all information presented during these updates. 

I hope you will find this helpful as a reference guide. Thank you for your continued support and membership!

Tracey C. Martin, RDH, BSDH

VDHA President


Summary of Governor Northam’s Briefing on COVID19 05-28-2020

Greetings VDHA members,

Please download this summary document from the VDHA lobbyist company, Commonwealth Strategy Group. Our lobbyists have been providing our leadership team with updates after every address by the Governor, and we would like to share them as we receive them. As some of you may already know, the Governor has been providing regular updates throughout the pandemic on Monday/Wednesday/Friday afternoons. These documents summarize all information presented during these updates. 

I hope you will find this helpful as a reference guide. Thank you for your continued support and membership!

Tracey C. Martin, RDH, BSDH

VDHA President


ADHA Interim Guidance on Returning to Work 4/30/20

ADHA_TaskForceReport.pdf

ADA Return To Work Toolkit 4/24/20

ADA_Return_to_Work_Toolkit.pdf

Governor Northam's Executive Order 60 4/28/20

EO-60-Clarification-of-Certain-Immunity-From-Liability-For-Healthcare-Providers-in-Response-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf

CDC Updated Guidance on Dental Settings 4/27/20

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html

ADA advises dentists to follow science-backed guidance regarding COVID-19 testing, avoid 'gray market' 4/17/20

https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/april/ada-advises-dentists-to-follow-science-backed-guidance-regarding-covid-19-testing

COVID-19 and VDHA Continued Efforts 4/13/20

Dear Members,

In the past month the VDHA team has been working diligently to support you and the profession of dental hygiene during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an effort to continue this work, we want to encourage all of you to send emails to the Governor of Virginia via the link at   https://www.votervoice.net/ADHA/campaigns/72583/respond When they say there is power in numbers, this is our time to shine and let the Governor know our concerns collectively. You will see there is a pre-written section, and separate message body. We encourage you to be specific about your concerns and adjust each section as necessary, whether it be proper PPE guidelines, availability of PPE, safety of patient or clinician in providing care, etc. With the state authorities reporting that Virginia has not reached the peak yet and may not by the end of April, this puts dental hygienists everywhere at risk if returning to work after April 24th. 

You may also email the Director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, Dr. David Brown  at David.Brown@dhp.virginia.gov, to share your concerns and encourage government officials to extend the deadline of April 24th in order to protect the health of the public and dental healthcare providers across the state. 

In addition, if there are offices still providing non-emergency care at this time, VDHA encourages you all to use the resources we have previously sent. The local police or sheriff's department can be contacted, and in addition you may file a complaint to the Virginia Board of Dentistry directly at   https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/PractitionerResources/Enforcement/FileaComplaint/or anonymously about the office you are concerned about.  

Finally I want thank you to all of you who have reached out during this difficult time with concerns, questions, and kind words. I have never been more proud to represent all of you, and VDHA will continue to work adamantly for all dental hygienists. 

Sincerely and respectfully,

Emilie M. Bonovitch, BS Biology, BSDH, RDH
VDHA President 2018-2020
VCU Adjunct Clinical Faculty


VDA Issues Recommendation for Dentists 3/20/20

March 15, 2020

The Virginia Dental Association (VDA) Board of Directors has been closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus; As dentists we are in one of the highest risk categories for transmission and contraction of the Coronavirus, with many routine dental procedures having the potential to transmit the virus via aerosolization of fluids. As leaders in the healthcare profession, we are responsible for ensuring the safety of our citizens and for our dental teams. For this reason, the VDA Board of Directors has been closely monitoring the spread of the Coronavirus and had an emergency meeting today where we took a unanimous vote to recommend that dental offices in Virginia postpone any non-emergent care for two weeks starting 3/17/2020. The VDA leadership took this very difficult decision seriously and proposes the following plan of action subsequent to the two-week hiatus.

While the official figures in Virginia at this time are relatively low, we expect those numbers to grow in the coming weeks and in the interest of patient health, as the health of our team members and their families, these measures can play a role in limiting the spread throughout our entire community. We also expect these two weeks will give the CDC, ADA, and VDH time to establish additional safety measures above and beyond our already comprehensive universal standards of infection control.

At this point, this is a recommendation from the VDA, not a mandate. The circumstances here in Virginia and globally are changing quickly, and we expect to see other states join us in issuing recommendations to postpone non-emergent procedures.

There are still a number of variables and unknowns, but this proactive measure is aimed to limit the spread and keep patients and practitioners safe. Right now, our priority is to do our part to decrease the rate of transmission. Many of you have heard on the news in recent days of the importance of “flattening the curve” to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed. If we can decrease the number of patients who require ICU care over the next several weeks, we will have done our part.

During these two weeks, the VDA will be working closely with federal and state resources to update very specific guidelines as they relate to social distancing, procedural modifications to control aerosolization, as well as educating our members on access to staff protective equipment and other safety measures.

As dentists, we are a major part of health care delivery in the country, and continuously prioritize the overall health of the patient. Taking responsible action right now is the best thing we can do at this time for our patients, for our office teams and for our health care system.

We also recognize that as small business owners, we have families and employees who rely on us; we want to ensure that we minimize the long-term impact on our offices as this virus ripples through the country. The ADA is advocating for relief for dental offices at the federal level and we will continue to advocate for our members in Richmond.

We will be frequently communicating updates that are coming at the local, state and federal level over the coming weeks via email, on our social media channels and on the VDA’s COVID-19 Hub. We will also be putting out text message alerts – if you haven’t yet opted-in, text “VDA” to 52886.

At this challenging time, it is important to stay calm in the face of this storm and use science and knowledge to help us navigate forward. We will get through this together while continuing to advocate for the profession and lead the nation in ensuring that we are doing our part in decreasing the transmission of this very serious health concern

Respectfully,

Your Virginia Dental Association Board of Directors


Letter from CDC Oral Health Division

Dear Colleagues,

As the expanding global outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues, the federal government continues to work closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners across the globe to respond to this public health threat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Oral Health (DOH) is diligently working with CDC’s Emergency Operations Center to develop tailored COVID-19 guidance for dental health care personnel (DHCP). Once this guidance is available online, DOH and partners will promote these resources as well as any related events (e.g., informational webinar, Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity) to the dental community.

It's unknown at this time what the full impact of COVID-19 will be in a U.S., however CDC is preparing as if this were the beginning of a pandemic. All healthcare facilities should take steps now to prepare for the possibility of a widespread and severe COVID-19 outbreak to prepare their practices and protect both their patients and staff. CDC urges providers to be familiar with the information on CDC’s COVID-19 website. Specific information is available for Healthcare Professionals, including a Healthcare Professional Preparedness Checklist, instructions on Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation (PUI), and a page on What Healthcare Personnel Should Know. DHCP can also consider signing up for communications from CDC’s Health Alert Network, which is CDC’s primary method of sharing cleared information about urgent public health incidents.

Standard precautions, including the use of proper personal protective equipment, should be followed when caring for any patient. These practices are designed to both protect DHCP and prevent DHCP from spreading infections among patients.

CDC’s guidelines note that, if not clinically urgent, DHCP should consider postponing nonemergency or elective dental procedures in patients who have signs or symptoms of respiratory illness. For procedures which are considered clinically urgent, dental health care personnel and medical providers should work together to determine an appropriate facility for treatment. The urgency of a procedure is a decision based on clinical judgement and should be made on a caseby-case basis.

The Division of Oral Health will communicate through partners as soon as tailored guidance is available for the dental community.

Thank you for all you are doing to keep our country safe and healthy.

Sincerely, CDC Division of Oral Health



The Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association  is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization located at 5101 Monument Ave, Richmond, VA 23230. 757-609-3661. Contact VDHA

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