4,000 masks, 25,000 gloves and other items collected by the Nanaimo District Dental Society await pickup at Lakeside Dental Clinic on Monday. (Photo submitted)

4,000 masks, 25,000 gloves and other items collected by the Nanaimo District Dental Society await pickup at Lakeside Dental Clinic on Monday. (Photo submitted)

Nanaimo dentists donate 4,000 masks, 25,000 gloves to health-care peers

Nanaimo District Dental Society collects items for front-line workers during COVID-19 pandemic

With their chairs empty for now, Nanaimo dentists decided they have plenty of equipment they can spare in a crisis.

Dentists in the Nanaimo area donated 4,000 masks – including 800 N95 masks – as well as 25,000 disposable gloves and other needed items to health-care workers in the region this week.

Nanaimo Division of Family Practice is co-ordinating the collection of personal protective equipment locally and Beccy Robson, project manager, met Dr. Robert Wolanski, president of Nanaimo District Dental Society, at his office at Lakeside Dental Clinic on Monday to pick up the materials.

“We managed to squeeze everything into her seats and the back [of her truck],” said Wolanski. “We had a lot of stuff.”

Robson said in an e-mailed statement that it’s “heartening” to see the dentist community rally behind front-line health-care workers.

“We are so grateful for their incredible donation of personal protective equipment, as it will go a long way to keep health care workers safe until supply chains can catch up,” she said.

Wolanski put out the call before the weekend, asking his peers to drop it off at his clinic, and said every dentist responded positively. Some had already dropped off PPE at the hospital.

“It’s needed more by the front-line people. We can’t use it now,” Wolanski said.

Dental clinics have been shut down for more than two weeks; the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. recommended March 16 that all non-essential dental services be suspended to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We’re all handling all our calls over the phone, just with expert advice and medication and we can hold people for a few weeks that way, but at some point, some treatment needs to be done,” Wolanski said.

He doesn’t expect dental services to resume until sometime in May. He said he’s an older practitioner who doesn’t carry a lot of debt, but said having zero income right now will be “extremely hard” on younger dentists, and added that the shutdown has meant staff layoffs. However, he added that dentists are well aware that treatment is risky during a pandemic.

“Once we’re in the mouth and we fire up our handpiece, we’re at the top of the respiratory tract and if there’s virus there, everything just goes into a big cloud of aerosol,” Wolanski said.

He said Island Oral Facial and Implant Surgery in Nanaimo has offered use of its four ventilators to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital if needed.

Anyone with any supplies of personal protective equipment including gloves, masks, gowns, eye protection, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes is asked to contact the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice at www.divisionsbc.ca/nanaimo/resources/donateppe or e-mail supplies.nanaimo@divisionsbc.ca.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo first responders salute health-care workers during COVID-19 pandemic

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19



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