This is our second round of short reports from ITI Board and Committee members around the world, reflecting on the current situation. Read the first Insights article.
Charlotte Stilwell, London (UK), ITI President-elect
My first professional awareness of the coronavirus situation was the potential impact it might have on the ITI World Symposium in Singapore. As Singapore managed to get the virus situation under control, for several weeks we hoped that the Symposium could still go ahead as planned. However, by early March it became clear that postponement was the only responsible option. Now, just a few weeks later, a quarter of the world’s population is in lockdown and facing immense challenges on an unprecedented scale.
In February in the UK, when the reports of the first Coronavirus cases started coming in, it served as a timely reminder of just why we have to adhere so strictly to our cross-infection control protocols at all times. But I never imagined that I would go from full-day practice to none in a matter of three days. The issues surrounding aerosol-generating procedures and lack of effective personal protection equipment against this virus locked us down in record time.
On a positive note, I have more time for continuing education – the ITI Academy is a great place to visit. Also, my now daily contact with ITI and WIN colleagues nationally and internationally is very upbeat. We are able to meet virtually at short notice and to move projects and new ideas forward in record time. It is a very difficult and scary time in so many ways and these meetings also allow us to compare notes on our respective situations before moving on to the professional agendas. And beyond that, I think the period will also prove to be very creative and permanently change the way we work together in the future.
Tony Dawson, Deakin (Australia), Editor-in-Chief and ITI Education Committee
As in many other countries, my university closed its clinics and laboratories over the last two weeks and moved over to online learning techniques, and my practice has also closed. I now have a lot more time on my hands – as someone who does not do nothing very well, I find this especially challenging. However, ITI projects are giving me useful things to do, as is the process of developing online teaching materials. To keep myself motivated, I make a daily activity plan and define goals to be achieved each day. These can be quite simple, but it is so much better than just drifting through each day. Keeping in touch with family and friends helps to keep me positive and I’m also trying to avoid getting too involved in the daily news reports as these are almost all universally depressing.
Alejandro Lanis, Santiago (Chile), Education Committee
Well, I’m following WHO guidelines, my practice is closed (which will soon be presenting an economic challenge), and I’m at home with my family. We have two young kids and it’s important to keep them safe and calm. At the same time life needs to go on and that means continuing their education. Sometimes it’s a real challenge! I have been trying to focus my energy on things for which I don’t normally have time when I’m working at my practice. So I’ve been working on articles and collaborating with different colleagues around the world. One of the things I miss the most is the contact with the rest of my family and friends. We have lost the freedom to live our lives the way we used to, at least for now. I am trying to stay connected with them and have online meetings at least every couple of days by Zoom or Facetime. When you realize that we are all facing this crisis together and have the same concerns and worries, it makes it easier. In the end, I believe we need to stick together since it will be the only way to overcome this crisis.
Georges Gebran, Beirut (Lebanon), Leadership Development Committee
March 17, 2020: My day was full with four implant surgeries. Then two out of four patients called to cancel and after that we went into shutdown. Now only emergencies have been scheduled.
As dentistry tops the charts in terms of risk, even dealing with emergencies is very stressful and time consuming. A lot is still unclear: airborne virus or not, infection control tools (PPE, N95 mask…) might be insufficient to protect ourselves and the staff and consequently our families. We urgently need a treatment strategy and guidelines during and most importantly after the Corona outbreak. All the recommendations we are reading online and watching on YouTube are still theoretical and not applicable to routine dental sessions. A vaccine is still the only solution otherwise modern dentistry will go into deep freeze. A fundraising action from all dental manufacturers and suppliers might be necessary to boost and accelerate research for a potential vaccine. I stay positive by working on presentations, working out, gardening, spending more time with my family and, above all, following the medical research on the SARS-COV2.
Maybe this “Reset” mode was necessary for the planet. Nature is stronger than all of us, is generous and doesn’t cheat. I am pretty sure that nature will have its own solution.
Looking for some educational input? Visit www.iti.org/ITI-at-home.