April 3, 2020

Dean Lloyd Provides COVID-19 Update

“What will get us to the other side of this ‘once-in-a-century’ pandemic is our commitment to doing the best we can no matter how difficult the situation may be, and our ingenuity in finding solutions to problems we have never faced before.” — Dean Patrick Lloyd

Dear Colleagues:

Patrick M. Lloyd, DDS, MS

Due to the many unpredictable events that we are all experiencing and the overall reduced activity level in the college, we have decided to truncate this issue of First Thursday and focus on making a few comments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to our students, staff, and faculty. Although our College of Dentistry has substantially scaled back operations, we continue to be engaged in accomplishing our mission - education, research, and service.

While working under the mandate that we must implement "social distancing" by staying a minimum of six feet away from one another, we have had to curtail offering classroom lectures. Instead, our students and residents are benefiting from the expertise of our faculty through virtual formats. Some are connecting with faculty "live" as the lectures are presented as videos and streamed for instant viewing. Other faculty are using pre-recorded materials that can be watched at our students' convenience. And while this is not the same experience as having face-to-face interactions with faculty, these new approaches have allowed us to continue our programs during this period when so many operations and activities have been suspended. For the patience our students have demonstrated in the midst of these changes, and the extra efforts our faculty have made to continue meeting our educational mission, I am sincerely grateful. Without this commitment to going "above and beyond," we would not be able to meet our obligations as we are now doing.

In an additional effort to reduce the population on campus, the university's research mission has also been significantly impacted. Research has been halted, except for those projects directly related to COVID-19 or that are essential to the long-term integrity of the university's work. This has meant that most of our college's basic and clinical research efforts have been put on hold. But to help maintain their momentum, principal investigators are having virtual meetings with their co-investigators and lab personnel, discussing their lab results, planning new experiments, and writing and refining new grants and manuscripts. In other words, even though the labs are not active now, the creative thinking and intellectual discoveries go on.

In response to the governor's directive that dentists must only provide emergent care to their patients, we have suspended the activities of our student and resident clinics. What we now have is a triaging and treatment service line that cares for our patients of record; patients referred to us from Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC), its Emergency Department, and the other university hospitals; and a limited number of patients from the community. Supported by faculty and residents from our General Practice, Endodontic, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residencies, we have been able to meet the many and complex needs and expectations of those who depend on us. This is yet another example of how we have adapted to the new situation we find ourselves in, and it is one of the rewarding aspects of this challenging time.

As evidence of our collaborative spirit here at Ohio State, our college recently responded to a request from the OSUWMC for Personal Protective Equipment to support their front line health care providers. To meet the need, and because we have worked hard to remain well-stocked, our college transferred more than 5,000 clinic gowns, 4,000 masks, and 7,000 pairs of gloves to the medical center. And, to help bolster a critical part of the health care supply chain, our faculty have found a way to use the same 3D printer technology we employ in creating surgical dental implant guides to print the test swabs needed to diagnose COVID-19. For this innovation, our colleagues in the medical center have been so impressed, and they are greatly appreciative of our ability and willingness to support them.

During my daily walks through Postle Hall, I am privileged to see how all this is happening. I make an effort to stop by every active area in the college and to express the gratitude we all feel toward the employees who are doing their very best to get us through these trying times. Throughout the day - in between telephone calls and other virtual meetings - I respond in some way to the many emails I receive from students, staff, faculty, and patients who have a question about what is going on, or who just want to let me know how things are going for them.

What I have discovered from all these interactions is at the heart of what I believe will get us to the other side of this "once-in-a-century" pandemic. It is our commitment to doing the best we can no matter how difficult the situation may be, and our ingenuity in finding solutions to problems we have never faced before. These are the most challenging times that many of us have ever experienced in our lives and our careers, but when we come out of this, we will be better prepared in so many ways for any and every unprecedented crisis we may go through.

I wish you all the very best as we work our way together through the days and weeks ahead, and I thank you for your loyalty, your concern, and for staying connected.

Patrick M. Lloyd, DDS, MS
Dean and Professor