Dental Alumni Society and Membership Benefits

A Note from Cesar J. Augustin, ‛91 DDS,
President of the Dental Alumni Society

Dear Fellow Buckeyes,

Just a few months ago, plans were taking shape regarding dental commencement alongside rising excitement over the expected completion of the new Postle Hall, just in time for the beginning of this Fall 2020 semester. Personally, I was reflecting on what wisdom I could impart to this graduating class at Convocation in a few weeks. My President's Letter for this Dental Journal was finished and submitted for publication. My wife and I were planning for our son's college graduation, overjoyed to see his future unfold as he continues into graduate school. We all knew there was an unexpected storm coming our way, but we had no idea that it would take form as something that'd impact our lives, much less the entire planet.

Then, it arrived. 

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has fundamentally altered all of our lives, our interactions with family and friends, and the way we do/ will practice dentistry for the foreseeable future. Since February, things have been in so much flux in our society that this is my third iteration of my President's Letter to keep it current and relevant. 

Some of us have not had any physical contact with our elderly parents for months. We talk every day about the PPP, PPE's, social distancing, "flattening the curve", and asymptomatic but infectious individuals. Some of us wonder how long our practices and/or families can survive financially. What happens if the country has to shut down again? We now live in color-coded counties, based on assessed infection risk. 

For people like me, living with Type- 1 diabetes, or others with chronic health conditions, we have to make the calculation whether returning to work is potentially a life or death proposition. 

Let's be honest, we are not receiving any coordinated or consistent guidance between our elected officials and the scientific/ medical community. Politics has gotten involved and has sown confusion amongst the populace. There is almost no data that is neutral that both sides are willing to agree on to formulate a consistent response to this pandemic, which is shameful. The poison pill of politics has even forced the resignation of the Ohio Health Director, Youngstown native and fellow OSU graduate, Dr Amy Acton. Why? Protesters, exercising their First Amendment rights, regularly congregated outside her home in Columbus, with some carrying firearms. Also, it is reported that protestors with anti-Semitic signage were at other protests. (The Guardian, June 12, 2020) Really? 

Buckeyes, I have no answers for you. 

Actually, I take that back. The College of Dentistry has been a shining light here at OSU these past few months. Congratulations, Dean Lloyd, for your accomplishments on behalf of the College of Dentistry and its dental students during these chaotic times. The OSU College of Dentistry was the first college on campus to open back up after the university shut down. This took tremendous planning to convince the OSU Board of Trustees that reopening could be done safely for faculty, staff, and students. Amazingly, the students were able to complete their requirements, final exams, including boards, and move on to the next chapter in their lives. All this while the construction of the new Postle Hall is continuing. It was my honor to participate in the College of Dentistry's first Virtual Convocation. Let's all hope it's the last one, too. This, Buckeyes, is what leadership looks like. 

The COVID-19 does not care about your politics or whether you think it is a big deal or not. Your actions, or inaction, can have a direct life or death impact on those around you. We, as dentists, understand this concept already. So, let's practice universal precautions outside the office, too. People need us, pandemic or not. Believe that our Ohio State University education is second to none, and we are good at what we do. Use your down time to improve your skill sets. Follow your community guidelines for social distancing, mask usage, etc. Rest, and exercise. Be a good example to others in your sphere of influence. 

These are difficult times, and the magnitude has yet to be fully realized. However, you, individually, still have the power to choose how you will interact with your circumstances. This too shall pass. 

Buckeyes, be well, and safe.

Cesar J. Augustin, 91 DDS
President, Dental Alumni Society

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