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March 23, 2020  | by Dr. Benjamin Farrow

A Message From Dr. Farrow: Reflections on COVID-19

In November of last year, we celebrated our 10th anniversary at Monroe Street Family Dental. During that Fall Gallery night, more than 500 people gathered in our office to share art, food and each other’s company. It was one of the most perfect days in our practice’s ten years. Dozens of artists, hundreds of patients, countless folks from the neighborhood, our amazing team, and dental colleagues all gathered together. We talked very little about dentistry and provided no dental care.

That evening was special because it made it so clear that the interconnectedness of our communities went far beyond what happens in the dental chair.

​Less than six months later, this celebration would be considered a “mass gathering” and we wouldn’t imagine it happening.

This past week has been head spinning. On Monday morning, our crew met to review our plan to modify operations that would allow us to safely provide dental care. By Tuesday it all had changed. As part of the effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the American Dental Association recommended that dental offices postpone routine dental care for the next three weeks. When the organization that represents the dentists of our entire nation speaks, we listen up.

Our office has closed for all but emergency dental care this past Wednesday. This was something I had never imagined doing. In the two days our team was together this week, there was a joyful but anxious energy as we saw our patients the last time for a while - it felt like a long goodbye. We wanted to give each person a hug – but better judgment left us feeling that an elbow bump is the best we can do. We tried to find humor where we could, and we encouraged everyone to stay connected.

As a member of the healthcare community, I understand the hard choices being made and why these precautions are so important in our effort to “flatten the curve.” We wish we could do more. We will certainly make available our excess PPE to those in the healthcare profession who need it more if it is in short supply. We will do our part to keep folks out of the ER by meeting their urgent dental needs.

As a small business owner, the last ten years have been filled with plenty of highs and lows. Monroe Street Family Dental grew from its first patient and there have often been periods where it was “one day at a time.” Building a “patient practice” has required plenty of patience and it hasn’t always been easy.

Over the years, we built our foundation on the trust you have put in us. We do this work because we believe it is important and because we truly love keeping up with you. As I’ve watched our practice and daily activities disintegrate, it has been truly heartbreaking. No one teaches you how to put a business “on ice.” You figure it out by necessity.

Our team of 12 depends on our office. They are truly amazing people. Their commitment to what we do and their trust in each other has been inspiring. Together, we will look for ways we can meet our patients’ immediate needs. I will do everything that I can to retain our incredible team. As a husband, father of three, and a small business owner, this is one of those moments we struggle to keep balance. I am so deeply grateful that my wife Amanda is in this with me, and together we are hoping for a return to normalcy for everyone. Still, the timeline is so uncertain.

Many of you know that I worked in restaurants for more than a decade. While our calling in dentistry meets a different need, my respect for those that create the meals we enjoy together runs deep. This is an extraordinarily trying time for restaurants and their teams. What is happening to restaurants is a microcosm of how this crisis is impacting all of us. Whether you own, work in, provide a product for, or dine in a restaurant you are suffering a loss of something important. These are places we come together. Most businesses with a closed front door are experiencing the same.

Most people who know me well would describe me as stubborn. I am an optimist and a fighter – we opened the doors of Monroe Street Family Dental in the depth of a recession. We have always had this faith in people: If you take care of each other, the rest will take care of itself. I still believe this is true – maybe more than ever.

We love Monroe Street and our neighborhood. It spooks me to see the lights out at so many businesses run by our friends and neighbors. The only way we hold together this community that enriches our life in so many ways is to find creative ways to support our neighbors.

Stay connected and help each other keep perspective – anxiety and isolation have their consequences too. While we will find it difficult to gather for celebrations like we did in October, let’s find daily ways to remind ourselves and each other of the ways our lives are woven together.

We will be there if you need us. I welcome any call or email, whether you have a question or you would simply like to check-in.

With the deepest gratitude,

Benjamin Farrow