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Where have all the patients gone??

Where have all the patients gone??

The dental surgeries are in a frenzy as the year draws to a close. Before the flurry of flashbulbs at the family party on christmas, another tooth cleaning was in order, the filling in the molar should be checked for its firmness before it meets the filling of the christmas goose. And if you don’t have a stamp in your bonus booklet, you can quickly make an appointment for the checkup. This year, however, everything is a bit different for dentists as well. Calm.

Dr. Dorothea ebenhoh, spokeswoman for the dentists in the district of kitzingen, sounds the alarm cautiously. She runs a practice in mainstockheim with her sister dr. Julia ebenhoh. The two dentists agree on one thing: times have become difficult to calculate. "We lack planning reliability," explains julia ebenhoh, referring to two things: on the one hand, patients are unsettled, canceling appointments at short notice more often than usual or not coming at all. On the other hand, also for financial reasons, they wanted to wait with a tooth replacement and not have the treatment carried out under the current circumstances. "That makes it even more difficult for us to plan."Their employees are on short time, so that financial losses can be compensated for. Dentists could not expect state aid, however, female dr. Ebenhoh.

Costs are rising

At the same time, the cost of medical hygiene products has skyrocketed, and some of them are not always available. Just a year ago, medical mouth and nose protection was available for three euros per 50 pieces; today, the same number costs 20 euros. An even more massive price increase, because the consumption is much higher than for the masks, is to be complained about for the gloves. The package now costs twelve euros instead of 3.50 euros – although the demand among the general population may have risen to a much lesser extent than for the masks. And availability is still not always guaranteed. "We always have to look at what’s on the market at the moment," says julia ebenhoh. It suspects that the material has been misused as a speculative object and would like to see more support from the company’s representatives in this regard. Rough practices with many employees could end up in financial difficulties if the situation persists. And also the laboratories would lack sometime of orders.

Short-time work in the lab

Jan stirn from dental laboratory friese is currently recording at least 20 percent fewer orders. "The patients are unsettled," is his declaration. "But dental practices have always had to meet the highest hygiene standards."However, the capacity utilization of the practices is always dependent on the doctors themselves. "Everyone has his own point of view. Some work as much as possible, others shut down to the bare minimum."But he is certain: "no one is closing down here voluntarily."

For his laboratory the same principle applies. "We serve about 25 practices and their patients," says jan stirn, stressing that none of them should have to wait unnecessarily long for their treatment. "The employees do what they have to do and then go home," is how he describes the short-time work situation. He is skeptical about the coming quarter. "I’ll be happy if we come out of this with a black eye".

That can dr. Dr. Ulrich pawlak confirm. In his oral surgery practice, he has noticed a difference from the first lockdown in the spring. Both the patients and his employees were more relaxed about the situation. "Naturally, some patients are worried, elective surgeries are postponed." The number of operations is not as high as before the pandemic and the losses from march and april have not yet been balanced out. "We are glad that we have enough to do," explains the physician, whose practice focuses on oral and maxillofacial surgery as well as implantology and laser medicine.

In the meantime, his employees had "gotten used to the glass panes," the atmosphere was very familiar, and people cared about each other. "We make the best of the situation," says dr. Pawlak, but still wishes that "the whole circus will soon be over". His practice could still survive for a time. "If it stays like this, we can still be satisfied."He feels sorry for those from all the other sectors who have had to close down.

The specialist practice for orthodontics of dr. Werner nathan far away. "We are not at 100 percent capacity utilization," he admits. But also far from having too little to do. Or even existentially threatened."He sees this danger in younger practices that have not yet built up a financial buffer. But established facilities have been able to cope with the crisis. "I don’t see any danger of insolvency," says dr. Nathan, even though he has not announced any short-time work for his staff. "I don’t know yet when we will balance the minus accounts again. But I wanted to support my employees."

Uncertainty traceable

However, his practice also runs relatively smoothly. After he had to drastically reduce his emergency service to two hours a day in march and initially postponed appointments that had already been scheduled, they piled up more and more during the six-week lockdown – in the orthodontic field, check-ups are necessary every four to six weeks. "When the schools started up again, we were able to schedule more appointments." Before that, he had just spurred a gross uncertainty among the parents as well.

He does not want to rely on state aid – which is currently not being considered for dentists – although he also denounces the increased prices for hygiene articles such as gloves and masks. Only for private patients there is a compensation from the insurance companies. "I’m not the type to cry out for the state. We can do it ourselves."

Dr. Werner nathan can still remain calm. And hopes that neither in his practice nor in the practices of his colleagues it will someday become too quiet.

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