I am writing this post on March 16th, 2021. Exactly one year ago, we decided to shut down our office for 2 weeks due to the increased threat of the virus. That turned into 3 months.
I remember that time clearly. It was March 15th, the day before the shutdown, I was watching tv. All of a sudden there was an emergency interruption and Governor Pritzker announced that all bars and restaurants were going to be closed to help slow the spread of the virus.
My stomach sank. I remember thinking, “Well, if they are closing the bars and restaurants, what’s going to happen to my business.”
That night I did not sleep a wink. I was up all night, looking online, for some answers as to what I needed to do. Should I close? Should I stay open and change some of my protocols?
I was looking all over the internet to help find some answers and there was zero guidance from any of the dental professional organizations.
I called up some friends that night and got their opinions. Some said to stay open until you’re forced to close. Others said, “Let’s shut down until we get a handle on this thing.”
Shutting down seemed scary because I did not have an unlimited amount of money and I was not sure how long this shutdown was going to last. But staying open seemed to be placing my team, my patients, and myself at risk, with this unknown virus.
An hour before coming into the office, I decided that we were going to shut down the office until we had a better idea as to what we are dealing with.
I remember that we all came in and when everyone arrived, I announced that we were going to shut down the office. Some of the staff began to cry because they were worried about paying their bills and how things in life were feeling so unsure.
I came home and my anxiety level was very high. I was not sure if my business was going to be able to survive this indefinite closure.
That night, my son began wetting the bed. I thought that maybe this was a fluke and it’s just a coincidence that Finn wet the bed. Then he did it again the following night and then the night after that.
My anxiety was affecting my kid. I needed to get a hold of myself and get my nerves under control.
Then I began thinking of the stories of when my family and their friends fled Cuba in the 60’s and left everything behind with literally $60 in their pocket. They came to the US, without speaking the language and without any connections. All of them got back on their feet and rebuilt.
My mom and my grandma would always tell me, “If you have an education, knowledge and skills you will never be broke. Castro took away our home, our businesses, our cars, but what we have here (as they would point to their head) he was unable to take that away.”
Remembering these stories helped me relax and gave me hope.
15 years ago, I opened up Dente, from scratch with ZERO patients. If this business runs out of money, then I will pick up my feet, and do it again.
My knowledge of dentistry and running a business is exponentially higher than it was 15 years ago. I knew that if I lost it all I would rebuild very quickly.
This thought process helped me to relax, and my anxiety disappeared. Soon after that my son stopped wetting the bed.
On June 1st, 2020 Governor Pritzker gave dental offices the go ahead to open back up. We opened and in about a month we were almost back to our pre-closure numbers.
I couldn’t have bounced back so quickly without our amazing team. Whenever a team is faced with a crisis, that team either fractures or gets closer together. Our team got very close.
It was a beautiful thing to see. Everyone stepped up and asked how can we help.
I am also proud to say no-one in the office got sick. This was an indication that the steps we took in the office to protect ourselves were working, but also it was an indication of the way our team protected themselves outside of our office.
I’d also like to thank our amazing patients that have supported us through this entire year. Without all of you we couldn’t have gotten through all this.
Floss like a madman!
Emilio “Surviving the Past” Couret