Return to the Spring 2020 Newsletter

Spring 2020 Newsletter: New Challenges — University of Washington School of Dentistry


Though all areas of the country have been now been affected by COVID, it was surreal for my hometown (Seattle) to draw national attention as the nation’s first known epicenter. I have been humbled and inspired to witness our communities, civic leaders, and healthcare workers uniting to face these challenges. 

Oral Medicine has taken a leading role in the COVID response at our institution, as I am sure it has at yours. From the beginning, our department chair (Dr. Mark Drangsholt) has stressed the critical role that Dentistry plays in keeping patients out of emergency rooms while advocating for our patients with chronic pain, oral mucosal disorders, and complex medical needs who depend on Oral Medicine for care and support.  The clinics affiliated with our department (Oral Medicine Clinical Services, Dental Urgent Care, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, and Seattle Cancer Care) are the only clinics in our institution that have maintained continuous operations during the pandemic.  Beyond this, our faculty have been crucial in UW telehealth efforts. Dr. Jackie Wong, whose Master’s thesis focused on tele dentistry, spearheaded our department’s telehealth efforts, which were rapidly expanded to a school-wide “virtual clinic.”  Dr. Kim Espinoza, the director of our Dental Education in Care of Persons with Disabilities (DECOD) clinic, and Dr. Ashland Doomes established an innovative program combining telehealth and urgent in-person care for patients with special needs. Their ingenuity not only provided for their patients’ healthcare needs, but also creatively integrated pre-doctoral dental students into the care team.  All faculty have embraced the quirks and opportunities of moving courses online, creating new and better online content, and facilitating daily Zoom calls. The collaborative spirit from other programs has blown me away. Hopefully, some of these changes, such as Central Grand Rounds, will continue long after COVID is behind us.