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Yahya Mansour, DDS, MS, FAGD, is the Chief Medical Officer at Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics, a DSO with more than 20 practices, 120 dentists, and 250,000 annual patient visits. In this interview with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar, Dr. Mansour talks about facts vs fears, leading with empathy as well as logic, and the "fallacy of leadership," which he thinks created issues that could have been avoided during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In addition to being a practicing dentist, Dr. Mansour has a unique perspective on PPE and other safety protocols related to COVID. He presented a thesis on coronaviruses when he was earning his masters degree in molecular biology and chemistry (right after the SARS outbreak) and he has talked to the Dean of the Wuhan dental school about the protocols they used in China during this outbreak. It's a fascinating conversation from a unique perspective about how dentists and dental team members should be evaluating and implementing infection control methods to keep themselves and their patients safe.

PPE: What’s Needed

“Everyone’s safety is the most important thing,” said Dr. Mansour.

For the clinical team, they have to follow state guidelines, which may include an N95 mask or a Level Three mask with a regular surgical mask over it that can be swapped out between patients. Dr. Mansour also recommends eye protection, either a face shield or loupes. For outerwear, Dr. Mansour recommends a full gown and possibly a bouffant cap, if that makes the team feel more comfortable.


Leading with Empathy and Logic

This has been an incredibly unsettling time. What we know about the coronavirus and how it spreads is constantly evolving. The shutdown of non-emergency dental care forced practices to reduce staff without a clear understanding of when or how they would be able to return to work.

Dr. Mansour and the team at Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics implemented a series of steps to help their teams figure things out.

“We formed an infection control specialist team and designated a person in each office. We shared with them the science and the literature and the policies, meeting via Zoom at least once a week and then twice a week, plus lots of emails,” explained Dr. Mansour.

Communication with team members and with patients is more important than ever when things are uncertain.

“We hold “town hall meetings” over Zoom to keep people informed. We created an internal social media platform for us to share articles and best practices, and we called it Rodeo Mix, which is very cool,” said Dr. Mansour. “And we’ve really leveraged social media to educate the public and let them know how important dental health is to overall health.”

As Rodeo started bringing people back into the offices, Dr. Mansour noticed there was a phenomenal level of unity and collaboration.

“You’re talking about a fraction of the workplace that was there doing almost double the work. In the face of crisis, I think leaders emerge and we really see who rises to the top.”

There have been some team members who are scared to return.

“We handle it with empathy and compassion,” said Dr. Mansour. “We tell them, you know, if you’re scared, that’s okay, stay home. We love you. We want you to feel safe. We would never want somebody to come into the office and feel unsafe and spread that panic to patients or other people. But those people are more the exception than the rule. On the first day back, I huddled everyone up and said, ‘Let’s talk about it.’ I call it hug the monster. That put things into perspective.”


The Fallacy of Leadership

One of the most challenging aspects of the COVID-19 shutdown was a lack of coherent messaging from the dental governing boards and health departments. Dr. Mansour calls it the fallacy of leadership.

“It’s when we just add rules and add more rules and we think we’re doing good and leading, and it’s really to cover your people’s own butts, you know?” said Dr. Mansour.

“This was like running track and doing hurdles when the hurdles were on fire. We had to navigate through the CDC, the ADA, the state dental boards, the state dental associations, and also the individual counties and cities that had their own directives.”


Evaluating the Past & Preparing for the Future

Moving forward, Dr. Mansour says we need a more cohesive approach.

“I truly think we had to do some soul searching. We’re doctors. We’re leaders. We know what the right thing to do is and what needs to be done. Our number one ally in this is our immune system. And you just simply cannot have a healthy body without a healthy mouth. This is an opportunity for us to educate and empower patients.

“I have a strong moral obligation to make sure we’re doing the right thing. That’s one of our core values at Rodeo. We even call it #doingtherightthing. And I think we’ve done a tremendous job of that as a team.”


Additional Resources

ADA COVID-19 Resources

For more interviews with experts, training resources, and guides, visit Academy.PatientPrism.com.


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