Some dentists on edge over state lifting ban on non-urgent procedures

With the governor's announcement that non-emergency medical procedures will now be allowed to resume May 1, some local dentists have mixed feelings.

Posted: Apr 23, 2020 5:02 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2020 5:39 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- With the Gov. Kate Brown's announcement that non-emergency medical procedures will now be allowed to resume May 1, some local dentists have mixed feelings. 


Terri Baarstad, who owns Smile Alive Dentistry in Crescent Village, said that since closing her offices to non-urgent patients, she has only seen around 30 patients with a limited staff working.

She said this was manageable because other offices were forced to do the same and she wasn't losing patients to other practices.

Now, with Brown saying that non-emergency procedures may resume May 1, she said she is unsure if she will open in full, adding that the earliest she would allow a normal patient flow is May 4. 

"I don't think there will be enough patients who want to come in right now that we can bring (the entire staff) back," said Baarstad. "We're making calls to the patients seeing how many people. We -- I have a lot of patients right now with urgent needs -- they're not true emergencies, but they're urgent -- things that are bothering them and those will be our first people to get in obviously."

Her staff is currently taking all the necessary precautions and then some to practice safe dentistry: wearing masks and face shields, screening patients in their cars before they come into the office, and operating with a reduced staff.

She said if they do reopen and cases begin to rise, they would close again.

They have a stable amount of personal protective equipment for the time being, but if they can't maintain that, they won't reopen.

Baarstad also said that she worries her patients might elect to go to a different dentist's office if some decide to open in full in May 1 while she holds off until a later date.

She said that she will only reopen once she and her staff can do everything possible to keep both her patients and her employees safe, to keep Western Oregon strong.

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