Yelena Ostrovsky is a dentist with a thriving practice in San Francisco’s Marina district. Front and center for Yelena is the awareness that she’s treating a whole person — a living, breathing individual, with unique fears and desires — not just a tooth. At Cable Car Dentistry, she delivers comprehensive care using state-of-the-art equipment that’s a far cry from the primitive dentistry technology she experienced as a child in Ukraine.

When the Coronavirus pandemic forced Yelena to close her office and furlough her staff, her income dried up overnight. She received assistance from the Small Business Administration, but those funds barely covered her standard business expenses, let alone the retrofitting needed to provide dental services safely in the Covid era. That’s when Yelena turned to Hebrew Free Loan, which had provided her with an interest-free business loan to help build her practice some years earlier.

“The compassion I experience from Hebrew Free Loan means so much to me. Their support is helping my small business stay cash-flow positive and gives me the ability to sleep at night!”

“I don’t take any chances on safety,” Yelena says. “Many of my patients are elderly or immune-compromised, and I needed to be sure that our office environment wouldn’t expose them to Coronavirus.” It was also essential to keep her six employees safe.

But safety comes with a high price tag. Masks and gowns that used to cost $1 now cost $5-10 each, and equipment had to be modified to prevent any virus transmission. True HEPA filtration was installed and additional procedures were added to the standard disinfection of exam rooms between each patient. Visits are staggered so that only one person at a time is in the waiting room, which means that Yelena and her team see 30-40% fewer patients each day than they used to. Initial PPE (personal protective equipment) and other safety precautions cost $12,000.

Yelena received an interest-free loan from Hebrew Free Loan to cover these costs and bridge the gap between income and expenses while things stabilize. She knows that many people are concerned about Covid risk and unsure whether they should see their dentist now. “Dentistry has always been one of the safest and cleanest environments there is,” Yelena says. “With all the new precautions in place, going to the dentist is, in most cases, safer than walking into the grocery store.”

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