Onward and Upward

Alex Frisbie, DMD

Just over twelve months ago, our practice made the agonizing decision to close our doors to all patient care save true emergencies, of which there were plenty. I’ve often joked with patients that toothaches and infections didn’t seem to get the memo that our world was on hold. Pennsylvania dentists did an outstanding job of recognizing the need to postpone non-essential treatment, yet still carry on our responsibility to provide emergent care to our communities. Patients ending up in the emergency department with dental infections isn’t good for patients, and it isn’t good for our medical colleagues who were more than occupied with the pandemic. Keeping people healthy and out of pain is one of our most fundamental responsibilities to the community and, as a profession, we stepped up this year in a big way.

On paper, it seems cut and dry; an odontogenic infection is clearly an emergency. Tooth whitening — not so much. But what about the myriad other services we provide that fall somewhere on the spectrum between emergent and elective? And what about the employees in our practices? At times, it felt like we were forced to choose between abandoning our patients and abandoning our staff. Making decisions about how to comply with guidelines without abandoning those we serve was overwhelming for many of us. The PAGD has always been a group of and for its constituents, and I can think of no better example of the service our group provides dentists than the year 2020. Being able to hear the voice of a colleague you know personally and trust made making some of those decisions easier.

I would regret missing the opportunity to thank our outgoing leadership, especially former Editor Dr. Maria Garubba and former PAGD President Dr. Leigh Jacopetti-Kondraski for their devotion and outstanding guidance. The entire PAGD board stepped up and served our group during a time when no one had a playbook.

Now, there seems to be an infectious feeling of positivity in our nation, our communities, and our profession. This spring, we held our first in-person PEAK meetings since the pandemic began. It was amazing to be able to catch up, share stories of our practices and our families, and come together the way that only the PAGD can bring dentists together. In fact, COVID-19 was a refreshingly minor topic of discussion. For the first time in a long time, I sat with beers and friends and picked their brains about what is going on in their world of dentistry. I know I wasn’t the only one who left thinking, “I can’t wait to do that again.”

Our incoming PAGD board members, led by President Dr. Ray Johnson, are ready to take the torch from the outgoing group and bring exciting new ideas to this group. Anyone who knows Ray knows he will lead our group with the same energy and enthusiasm he brings to his own practice.

As Editor, I am excited to serve this publication and continue the work done by others before me. I want to continue the open door and open ear policy that my predecessors set and invite anyone in this group to not hesitate to reach out to me with ideas or concerns. The Keystone Explorer, like the PAGD, will continue to be a great resource to our colleagues and I am excited to meet the challenge.