Dentists can now register with the state’s disaster healthcare volunteers to be deployed to assist with critical emergency care during the pandemic. 

California dentists can now register at California’s Disaster Healthcare Volunteers website to be deployed to assist with critical emergency care needs in response to COVID-19. 

California healthcare providers will face the challenge of providing care to millions of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state will be unable to rely on its normal workforce and will need additional support. As the California Dental Association (CDA) points out in a statement on their website, “Dentists, with their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and sterile surgical techniques, are invaluable to the healthcare worker capacity necessary to meet this need.”

The website will gather a list of pre-credentialed licensed healthcare volunteers who can be deployed without interruption to assist during the pandemic, potentially giving local hospitals with the greatest need access to dentists with skills who can serve. 

Dentists have a few options when registering to be a volunteer and can choose their level of commitment. According to the CDA, two trained and ongoing emergency response teams are available: the Medical Reserve Corps and the California Medical Assistance Team. Volunteers are not required to choose either of these response teams and have the option to participate in county-level response and volunteer on a single-event basis. 

According to the California Disaster Healthcare Volunteers website, participants will be paid and will be given malpractice insurance coverage. 

Volunteer duties may include taking vital signs; administering COVID-19 testing; triage; treating emergencies, including providing local anesthesia and suturing; administering oxygen; administering injectables, including vaccinations; and writing prescriptions. Oral surgeons and dentist anesthesiologists can intubate and provide deep sedation/general anesthesia services. 

The CDA is also calling on dental professionals to donate spare personal protective equipment to local hospitals or emergency service departments. Needed items include N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, ventilators, and hand sanitizer. 

The CDA Foundation has donated a supply of 15,000 masks, 25,000 gloves, and 2,000 gowns to a Southern California hospital during this crisis.