The past two years have been difficult for everyone and the close of this year will bring a feeling of release for many as the restrictions ease. We may, however, be in the early stages of a chronic pandemic that etches itself into the modern history books. Our role as educators in the community cannot be underestimated. The need for endorsement of “common sense” hygiene and preventive measures as a course of daily behaviour and especially in our clinics ought be the focus of our New Year resolutions.
We have been fortunate to have witnessed a low death rate to date and the load on our public health facilities has been onerous but not over-whelming. Viral variation and the vaccination success against those variations is the unknown; in short the battle may have just begun. Those of us who have lost a friend or colleague because of this pandemic need no reminder of the seriousness of the situation. Community vigilance implies recognition that exposure to the virus in any format can come at a deadly cost.
The existence of comorbidities in our patients is an increasing theme of our training workshops and continuing education.
It is reasonable that we take it upon ourselves to be gentle reminders to those patients of the considerable fatal risk of exposure and with this in mind we have to double our own efforts in infection control and prevention of cross-contamination.
Teamwork is the essence of any successful enterprise and our practices are reflections of our endeavours to engage our staff in promotion of contamination control. Rigorous attention to sanitisation and prevention of cross-infection ought be part of the daily staff huddle. For us, the PPE is not a fashion statement but rather a much needed barrier against what could be a tragic circumstance.
The Specialist Oral Surgery Training Course conducted by the University of Sydney in Sydney continues. This is the only Oral Surgery Specialist training course in Australia. This three year full-time commitment to training has become a formidable work force in the Public Health System of New South Wales, both city and rural. The waiting lists for oral surgery procedures in the public sector increase with each year.
Based in the Nepean Hospital in the Western part of Sydney the trainees have made a significant in-road to burgeoning waiting lists. The participants are engaged by rural local health districts to complement their commitment to the city lists. This gives them a broad exposure to oral health problems as well as training in the very significant differences of needs of the rural community.
The programme has commitments to Dubbo, Orange and, next year, Wagga Rural Hospital and community dental clinics. Registrars are engaged in the Royal North Shore Hospital of Sydney and are engaged in improving the management of the oral health problems of patients who are treated in the multi-disciplinary Head and Neck cancer clinic.
With the recognition that the population is aging this need will increase and the need for more oral surgery trained personnel in the public health service is recognised. Research projects undertaken by the candidates hopefully will soon be the source of publications that will contribute to understanding of the very significant and different needs of public oral health. The waiting lists are very long for consultation regarding dental problems that require surgical intervention. Those in the work force who are dealing with the attendees after long periods of pain and infection see a picture that is at best discomforting.
Analgesic overdosage is common; multiple visits to emergency hospital departments the norm; intravenous drugs without curative attention common; the cost to the health system is considerable. NSW Health, as I write, has committed in excess of a million dollars to the expansion of the training programme. It is hoped that NSW Health will forward think to the offering of positions within the hospital dental clinics for the trained Specialists for on-going development of oral surgery and oral medicine services for the disadvantaged in city nand rural communities.
The ANZAOS continuing education day has been an on and off affair over the past eighteen months. We have resisted the use of Zoom as a meeting modality preferring the collegiality of mixing personally with each other and sharing experiences over lunch and coffee. The virus has been a nuisance to say the least in allowing this to go ahead. The proposed date for our meeting which will be open to all members and friends of the Association on the 12th of March 2022. Titled Contemporary Oral Surgery, it will be a whole day event at the University of Sydney Main Campus. I will advise of Registration in early January.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and let us all hope that we engage the New Year with firm resolution to overcome the downsides of this pandemic.