IUSD Emergency Clinic treated more than 2,000 patients during the COVID-19 shutdown.
In the early months of the pandemic, as dental offices around the world went dark, a bright light illuminated the west side of the IUPUI campus. The dental school’s Emergency Clinic stayed open to serve Hoosiers with acute oral pain and infection. From March through July 2020, about 20 faculty and staff members commuted on eerily quiet streets and highways to operate the state’s only dental emergency clinic.
The emergency clinic was also the beneficiary of a $15,000 grant from The Delta Dental Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. Funds were designed to address needs faced by both safety-net dental clinics and nonprofits who work with vulnerable populations and provide health services or food assistance in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana during a time of need and crisis. These grant funds were used to help cover the cost of treatment for emergency patients who were otherwise unable to pay for their dental care. As a result, during a period of tremendous financial and public health uncertainty, IUSD was able to continue providing emergency care for the public and did not have to turn away emergency patients due to their lack of insurance.
“This is a story of many heroes,” said Dr. Harvey Weingarten, associate dean of Clinical Affairs. “Multiple people, all playing essential roles, came together for a common goal. When we remember the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, I will remember the way IUSD’s Emergency Clinic came to the rescue to treat the patients in pain during the shutdown.”
Located in the James J. Fritts, DDS Clinical Care Center, a new state-of-theart clinic that opened at the dental school in 2018, the Emergency Clinic was constructed with negative pressure operatories, which circulate air from the ceiling down to the floor and move it outside through special HEPA filter vents. “An awesome group of dental professionals, many of whom had not worked together before, staffed the Emergency Clinic,” said Jennifer McKee, dental hygienist in IUSD Faculty Practice. “We pulled together and quickly created a new working rapport to care for patients who were extremely grateful that we remained open and successfully addressed their dental emergencies.”