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COVID-19 Pandemic Put Some South Florida Dentists In Survival Mode

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - For dentists, seeing patients, saving teeth, and just surviving has been a struggle during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We went to survival, basically. It was a survival mode," said South Florida dentist Dr. Nolyris Alvarez.

Due to a state-mandated shutdown and patient reluctance, patient flow into Oral-Facial Comprehensive Care cratered with 14 employees, and the husband and wife dental team was forced to scramble.

"We need to prepare. We have to be ready whenever the mandate ends. We need to be ready. They need us, we need them," said Doctor Alvarez.

Most of those employees are back, business is ramping up. In part because of help from FIU's Small Business Development Center.

"We were able to work with Noly and her husband to get funds that were available, PPP loans, a bridge loan from the state and they were able to survive the pandemic," said Brian Van Hook, Regional Director of Florida SBDC at FIU.

That's what the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) does. Federally and state-funded, staffed with business experts, consultants, who cut through red tape.

A lifesaver for Miami-Dade and the Keys businesses that sought help.

"In a normal year, we work with about a thousand businesses last year we doubled. Helped 2,000 businesses in the community," said Van Hook.

"With their help, we were able to apply early and we got approved by several of the programs and here we are happy and working," said Dr. Alvarez.

But the challenge remains. How to lure back reluctant patients and those who did not know the dental practice was open again? It is a pivot moment in the recovery.

"I think the video we made, made us realize we could fulfill that security what patients needed to see that they would be safe with us," said Dr. Alvarez.

Simple to the point, stressing how the office and staff were following, exceeding CDC guidelines on screening, patient care. The video was sent to all patients and posted on social media.

"As soon as we opened up, we saw how people started calling us. 'Is it true you are implementing all those steps?'," said Dr. Alvarez.

If you have a small business impacted by the coronavirus, the SBDC might be able to sort things out for you.

To learn more about the SBDC, click here.

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