NJDA President Mitch Weiner was a participant in NJBIA's Town Hall Press Conference with members of the media and state legislators on January 11th to address the ongoing needs of the business community. Read Dr. Weiner's remarks here.
In addition to my role as NJDA President, I am also a sole proprietor, operating a general dental practice in the Kendall park section of South Brunswick. I have been practicing over 30 years in New Jersey and have been a small business owner for over 28 years.
Between March 17th and May 25th, I was alone with no staff and sub optimal PPE due to supply chain issues, performing any urgent dental care my patients needed in order to keep them out of the COVID ridden hospital emergency rooms.
The members of the NJDA, my colleagues, did the same, rising to the occasion as healthcare heroes, all while their businesses were at the brink of collapse.
PPP loans and EIDL grants helped many of our members to survive our shutdown to routine care and our slow crawl to recovery, with most dental offices now at 60-70% of their pre-Covid productivity.
Sadly, 5% of dental practices were forced to close, representing access points to care that are no longer available to our citizens.
For the 95% of practices that are still operating, including mine, our sustainability is dependent on adequately addressing the following issues:
First and foremost is our longtime residents, the individuals that sit in our dental chairs and shop on our main streets, moving out of New Jersey. We need a tax and business environment in the state that promotes job growth, and most importantly, incentivizes the best and the brightest entrepreneurs , the successful job creators , to stay in the state. Our young people are leaving the state and our boomers are leaving the state. For a dental practice, there is no growth without young patients and decreased productivity with a diminishing pool of boomers.
The second concern is the affect that online school has had on the dental auxiliary workforce. Many of our employees, and some of our dentist members, have been forced to stop working and stay at home to care for online educated school age children. Staffing shortages have been devastating for our members. We need to create options for quality child care that facilitate getting our employees back to work.
In addition, we need Trenton to solve the License turnaround problems that have left practice owners unable to onboard new associates, further incentivizing young dentists to seek employment in other states, which they have been doing for years. Procurement of licenses for every single occupation that requires one is inefficiently centralized in one place. The COVID pandemic has only exacerbated a system that was in dire need of a reboot.
We need the state, in this time of PPE price extremes, to continue their efforts in assisting small business healthcare providers with access to discount PPE.
We also need enforcement of prompt payment laws so insurers process claims in a timely fashion to assure us adequate cash flow.