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Group calls for COVID-19 testing in dental clinics

Last Updated Sep 28, 2020 at 8:34 pm EDT

Summary

Altima Healthcare Group is calling on the government to consider dentists to administer these tests for their clients


The Ontario Dental Association has not committed to supporting this idea


The company points to Japan, where months ago, the government agreed to allow dentists to test for COVID-19


Imagine walking into a dentist’s office for a scheduled appointment and getting a COVID-19 test done. That’s what one of the largest dental groups in the country is calling for. The CEO of Altima Healthcare Group is calling on the government to consider dentists to administer these tests for their clients.

“I think they’re missing the people who are really trained to take care of this, it’s the dental professionals,” says George Christodoulou.

The dental group has about 33 clinics province-wide, and Christodoulou says they can test a combined 1,500 patients and staff members a day. But they’re not testing just anyone. The swab won’t be offered to those who are symptomatic or people who just need the test. It would only be made available to patients who already have a dentist appointment and have met the clinics’ COVID-19 pre-screening requirements.

“Dentists are trained in head and neck anatomy, and when saliva tests come out, we’re trained in that as well,” Christodoulou says “They’re protected, we’re protected, no additional PPE needs to be put in place. While [they’re] having treatment, and they are seeing our healthcare providers they can also be tested. ”

The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) is meeting on this issue this week, but have not yet committed to supporting this call.

“We’ll be watching with interest how the rollout for testing at pharmacies goes,” said Maggie Blood, communication specialist with the ODA.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario doesn’t appear to be on board with this idea.

“The College does not consider nasopharyngeal testing (that is the nasal swabs) to be within the scope of practice,” said Kevin Marsh.

Christodoulou said he reached out to the province about dentists testing months ago, back when the numbers were decreasing day-over-day, and there were no line-ups outside assessment centers. He said he has not heard back.

If the majority of the province’s dental experts decide to participate, Christodolou expects to reach 100,000 tests daily, because the swabs would be available to more Ontarians, making communities safer, he argues.

“By spreading it out throughout the province, you get the smaller towns as well,” he said. “We might be able to get through this wave, but there will be others, at least explore other ways to test.”

Christodoulou points to Japan, where months ago, the government agreed to allow dentists to test for COVID-19.

CityNews reached out to the province to ask if the government was considering dentists for COVID-19 testing, but a response was not provided by publication deadline.

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