By Carrie Mauterer, CDA President
From the Fall 2020 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association
I started to feel the first inkling of it during the first few days of Governor Polis’s stay-at-home orders. It was that twitchy feeling like Thor waiting for his hammer to land in his hand.
From our very first COVID-19 emergency meeting back in March, there was quite a bit of discussion about exactly what role the CDA should play in attempting to hold the dental community together during the crisis. With very little initial information and quite a few choices to be made quickly, I feel our organization and rapid response served the CDA members very well. That being said, we received a lot of feedback from our members asking us to take on different leadership roles.
Could we be Enforcers pointing the finger at non-compliance? Why aren’t we Warriors battling any opposers to the death? Are we America’s Sweethearts trying to butter up the authority figures? Maybe we are Attorneys attempting to decipher complicated and often nonsensical legalise? (Should vs. Shall, anybody?) Could CDA take on the role of a Union Leader leading everyone to go on strike and protest our way out of this? Could we be Educators teaching our interpretations of how to run a dental practice?
The truth is, we are a little bit of all of that. But I needed a recipe for the “CDA Special Sauce.” Two tablespoons of Sweetheart and one cup of Rogue? How much Union Leader do I use for a high altitude recipe? I needed to do more research. To further define our leadership style I dove into the CDA’s history. Never before have I read and studied our mission as much as I have these past months. I was searching for the answers, trying to read between the lines to be sure our decisions were aligned with our purpose:
The Colorado Dental Association is the professional association of dentists that fosters the success of a diverse membership and advances the oral health of the public.
So put that mission into context with the COVID-19 crisis and what does that really mean? I would argue that it is hard to extract a definitive answer–or a definitive recipe.
This is actually the second pandemic the CDA has endured. Do you think the presidents of the CDA in 1918,1919 or 1920 left us some super secret pandemic CliffsNotes after the Spanish Flu? If they did, I haven’t found them yet, back in that scary CDA file storage room. (I saw some dentists wander into that file room over three years ago never to be seen again. It’s like the Chronicles of Narnia back up in there.)
Going back even further, at the first official meeting of the Colorado State Dental Association in 1887, do you think our founders ever discussed the answers to the issues we are facing today? What would Dr. William Smedley, the first president of the CDA, do (WWWSD for short)? The Executive Committee of 1887 consisted of Drs. Grannis, Rogers, Chipley, and Kelley. Do you think they came up with a pandemic leadership recipe for us? Nope.
As usual in leadership, we are left to cook without a clear recipe. That’s the beauty of strong leaders–we make our own recipes. Back in March, it was up to the CDA Board to grab its iron skillet, brush up on its sous vide skills and draw out the recipe to foster the success of our members. Bam!
I’m happy to announce we found our “CDA Special Sauce.” Our leadership style has been strong but classy. Kind of a hybrid between The Rock and Martha Stewart (his jawline; her ganache). As a perfect culinary blend, “Martha Rock” guided our definition of success for future COVID-19 regulation. When negotiating and educating, and at rare times writing strongly worded letters to our regulatory bodies, the CDA is advocating to protect these three elements:
- Safety – We seek to protect the safety and wellbeing of dental professionals and dental patients.
- Sustainability – We seek affordable and reasonable guidelines so dental offices can be compliant and sustain the protocols in place.
- Balance – We seek a PHO that balances the needs of the dental community with all healthcare workers, especially our frontline healthcare providers.
If any one of these elements is not incorporated into our regulation, it will result in a second shutdown of dental offices. Another shutdown of our essential services is not an option.
The dental professionals in Colorado have done an incredible job keeping our patients and our staffs safe and healthy. Governor Polis and CDPHE listened well to our feedback on the sixth amended PHO. We are quite ecstatic to see that we were able to work our “Martha Rock” style to a successful and sustainable PHO for all of Colorado’s dental offices.
As The Rock says, “Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.” Martha backs him up saying, “And when you are mad hungry, try my cornish game hen. It’s simply to die for.”
Stay hungry my friends.