American Dental Association clarifies position on unvaccinated patients

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(WEHT) – The American Dental Association is clarifying its part in a story prompted by an opinion from a dentist that spread through social media. An article from late October intimated the ADA was allowing dentists to turn away patients who were unvaccinated.

The ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs released an article that cited the opinion of one dentist that it is not unethical to turn away pateints who are unvaccinated. But now the the ADA is updating it’s position. Instead, they stressed that their code states no one can be turned away for their beliefs or their identification – which includes their vaccination status. The statement says the article was the opinion of the dentist who wrote it.

The ECHO Community Healthcare of Evansville says they would never turn away a patient for such reasons.

“That is not how we are providing care,” said Carol Collier-Smith, COO of ECHO. “We believe and are providing care to everyone regardless of their vaccination status. We don’t turn people away medically if they are unvaccinated and we would not do that in the dental clinic either.”

Collier-Smith said they provide healthcare regardless of whether or not patient has insurance and that they welcome everyone.

“We know that even before we opened our dental clinic there were so many people in our community that were going without general preventative care that most of us who have had insurance most of our lives have enjoyed. The long term effects of that are devastating.”

She said their mission has not changed with COVID.

“We know, and the ADA has published studies, that dentists and dental hygienists are not at greater risk for treating patients. With the proper PPE – personal protective equipment – they are very well protected.”

The COO said they do regularly screen their patients upon arrival.

“We are screening for active symptoms of COVID and we will not see those people if they have been exposed or are symptomatic. However, we’re not going to deny them care based on their vaccination status.”

On the ECHO website, they state that “we provide quality healthcare to all members of our community, including the uninsured, underinsured and homeless. Our comprehensive services are Affordable, Accessible and Appropriate. Our team of professionals is here to care for you and to advocate on your behalf.”

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