In It Together

A community sourced archive,
documenting COVID-19’s impact
on dentistry

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Many in the dental community have been affected by COVID-19 and want to share their stories.

As a result, the ADA is launching the JADA+ COVID-19 Monograph—a digital collection of stories, reflections, and accounts from any perspective, in any format, including articles, essays, podcasts, videos, graphics, and photos—that is open to all contributors. Submit your COVID-19 story here.

Stories by Region

How My Patients Saved My Practice – Dr. Robert Donahue

I truly believe that our patients really do care about us. Below are excerpts of two letters that I sent, one dated March 23, 2020 and one dated June 1, 2020, to all of my patients of record. I have been heavily encouraged, but reticent to do so, by many patients, family and friends, to make these letters known to the dental profession as a whole.

I will let the content of the letters speak for themselves.

March 23, 2020

To all our wonderful loyal patients,

I trust everyone is well and healthy. Please do not give into quarantine rules fatigue. Please follow the scientific and medical advice in our efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay strong.

The following portion of this letter is absolutely out of character for me. However, a patient left me a phone message yesterday that would like to donate to my office during this most difficult time. After much introspection and soul searching, I have come to the realization, that I, like everyone, needs some help at this time. My career has been based on trying to help others through my personal and professional life. I now find myself unable to be in control to help our patients, and our staff and their families, to which I remain deeply committed. Therefore, I would like to propose the following for those patients who are able to do so. Would you consider pre-paying your next one or two dental hygiene (cleaning) visits to our office. This would be credited to your account and debited in the future, when you return to our office to seek treatment.

This is totally anonymous and non-judgmental. This could provide a means to maintain my office and my staff during this most difficult time. I can think of a litany of reasons, pro and con, with this somewhat unsavory request. Please do not consider participating if you find this objectionable or financially formidable.

If you would like to support another patient with a donation so that I may continue my pro bono care, feel free to do so.

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.

Thank you & stay safe.
Robert G. Donahue, DDS


Approximately 600 Hygiene fees were collected between March 23, 2020 and June 1, 2020



Below is the second letter, a thank you letter, dated June 1, 2020.

June 1, 2020

To All Our Wonderful Patients,

I would like to express my deep and heartfelt gratitude to all of our wonderful, loyal patients, for your support, during this most trying time, for all of us. Your support to our office has been beyond my wildest expectations. Simply said, please accept my heartfelt appreciation for all you have done.

We have received an innumerable amount of cards, letters and financial support during this time. One note in particular thanked me for having the courage to write patients asking for support at this time, literally bringing tears to my eyes.

In closing, a story, if I may. Many people and situations, past and present, mold us into what we have become today. On my graduation day from Dental School, May 19, 1985, my dad, who was also a dentist, shook my hand, congratulated me, and mentioned several things to me. One of them was – “Take care of your patients and your patients will take care of you.” Truer words were never spoken.

All I can say is – Thank you for taking care of me and our practice family.

Many thanks,
Robert G. Donahue, DDS

The intent of sharing these letters was not to boast about myself, or my fortuitous good fortune, but rather to encourage fellow colleagues to use this as a framework of ideas for their benefit, as well as that of our patients. For I truly believe, our patients do really care. This experience is the ultimate validation.


Robert G. Donahue, DDS
Fellow of the American College of Dentists
Fellow of the International College of Dentist
Dr. Donahue is a General Dentist in Washington, DC

Stock photo credits: Francesco Carta fotografo/Moment/Getty Images Carol Yepes/Moment/Getty Images

Topics: Personal Essay, Region–Northeast

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