RI dentist can't work until vaccinated for COVID-19

By Melissa Busch, DrBicuspid.com associate editor

October 5, 2021 -- The State of Rhode Island Department of Health has ordered a dentist to stop treating patients until he gets vaccinated for COVID-19, which the state has required of all healthcare workers by October 1.

Dr. Stephen Skoly Jr., who stated in a news article and in video recordings that he would not comply with the state's vaccine mandate and has continued to treat patients, was issued the notice of violation and compliance record on October 1.

Skoly "is required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as a condition of licensure if he is either directly involved in patient care or potentially exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted from person to person," Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the state health department, wrote in the notice.

As a result of his violation of the regulation, which was adopted by Rhode Island's health department in August 2021, Skoly may also face disciplinary action. He has 10 days to submit to Alexander-Scott a written request for a hearing to address the matter. If a request is not received, the notice of violation will become a compliance order, she wrote.

Vaccine mandates have been a hot-button issue throughout the U.S., with some healthcare workers refusing to comply with vaccination requirements. In September, the American Dental Hygienists' Association and a dozen other oral and public health organizations issued a statement calling for oral healthcare workers, students, and residents to be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. While a coalition of more than 50 health organizations and societies for medicine, academic health centers, and more had been advocating for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations since July, this was the first time any dental organization lobbied for required inoculations.

Skoly specializes in oral and maxillofacial surgery in Cranston, RI. The order was issued after Skoly was quoted in an October 1 article in the Providence Journal stating that he was not vaccinated.

Skoly went on to say that he did not meet the medical exemption incorporated in the regulation and that he intended to engage in direct patient care in which he or others would be exposed potentially to infectious agents that can be transmitted from person to person. Additionally, Skoly made similar public statements, including some that were published in video recordings, according to the notice.

Therefore, "failure to comply with the provisions of a compliance order may result in additional sanctions and penalties authorized by law," Alexander-Scott wrote in the notice.


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