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Dental practices among those hit by Hurricane Ike

The ADA is offering disaster relief and assistance for dentists whose practices were damaged by Hurricane Ike, which made landfall early Sept. 13 along the southeastern portion of Texas.

The powerful, Category Two storm pounded the Gulf Coast, causing massive flooding and structural damage and, so far, 50 deaths—the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Among the hardest-hit areas was Galveston Island, Texas, where the Houston Chronicle reported Monday that residents of that area and as well as neighboring Galveston were told to stay away until later in the week.

"There is nothing to come here for right now," Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said in Chronicle reports.

Other Texas counties severely affected were Seabrook, La Porte, Baytown and Texas City, all located in suburban Houston.

San Antonio, site of this year's ADA annual session, was not affected by the storm, and annual session will proceed Oct. 16-19 as scheduled. More than 30,000 people are projected to attend this years meeting.

The remnants of Hurricane Ike led to rampant flooding in several states, most notably Indiana, Missouri and Illinois. The storm is also responsible for deadly tornadoes and more than two million people lost power in Texas alone, the Chronicle reported.

The ADA estimates that approximately 3,400 active member homes and offices are located in Ike's 12-county impact area, with approximately 200 of those located in devastated areas.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared Texas and Louisiana public health emergencies to ensure that people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program continue to receive their health care items and services.

Henry Schein Dental has set up a toll-free hotline for health professionals seeking disaster-relief assistance.

The company's hotline is open from 7 a.m-7 p.m. and is monitored 24 hours a day.

Dentists who need assistance can call 1-800-999-9729. They also can contact the ADA via the toll-free number.

The Schein hotline is for dentists, physicians, veterinarians and any health care facilities that may experience operational, logistical or financial issues as a result of hurricanes or other natural disasters.

As part of its Charitable Assistance Programs, the ADA Foundation has approved grants of up to $2,500 for dental professionals affected by disasters as well as grants for organizations that provide dental services to affected areas. Each dentist's situation will be considered individually by the ADA Foundation's Charitable Assistance Program Committee. Dentists applying for grants should fully explain what they have lost, including dental and other office/home supplies and goods. To apply for relief online, visit the ADA Foundation Web site.

This is the second major disaster to strike the Gulf Coast region this month. Earlier in September, Hurricane Gustav struck Louisiana and Mississippi where residents continue to recover.

The ADA, with help from the Florida Dental Association, has a five-step disaster planning and recovery package that offers guides and resources, worksheets and applications.

To access it online, visit www.ada.org/prof/prac/disaster/index.asp.

In 2006, the Florida Dental Association developed a Disaster Preparedness Manual in conjunction with the Florida Dental Health Foundation with support from an ADAF grant. The manual is based on the experiences of dentists who lost or suffered damage to their offices and homes during a disaster and it covers how to prepare the office; what to do if a storm strikes; and describes local, state and national resources that are available.

To download the manual or for more information, visit www.floridadental.org/foundation/disaster.html.

There is also an Occupational Safety and Health Administration page for employers and employees affected by the hurricanes and tropical storms with links to more than 40 fact sheets and health tips on decontamination and other hazards. The OSHA page may be accessed at www.osha.gov/OshDoc/flood-tornado-recovery.html.

There is also additional information at www.bt.cdc.gov.