June 16, 2024
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Oral Surgeon Torin Rutner Adds COVID Testing to Professional Offerings

Dr. Torin Rutner of West Orange is much more than your average oral surgeon. His practice, Center for Oral & Facial Surgery, provides a wide array of services including oral and maxillofacial surgery, facial reconstruction and facial cosmetic surgery. And since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutner and his staff have added COVID and antibody testing to their professional offerings.

Rutner has a dual degree in medicine and dentistry, and uses his degrees to provide medical, dental and oral surgical care to his patients. He joined the established Westfield practice in 2004, and has developed a professional following in Union, Essex and Middlesex counties since that time. He treats “both adults and children with a strong emphasis on seeing a large pediatric patient base.”

“We go beyond the scope of most oral surgeons in private practice,” said Rutner in a telephone interview with The Jewish Link.

Because of his medical degree, Rutner gets referrals for patients with complex medical histories. “We treat patients with bleeding disorders, and can manage procedures using general anesthesia for people with high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions in our office rather than in the hospital,” he said. However, he is on staff at Morristown Memorial Hospital and is able to do surgeries there when needed.

Rutner also treats patients with facial anomalies such as cleft lip and palate, and he is part of a craniofacial team that manages children with facial anomalies.

He offers traditional oral surgeries such as wisdom tooth extraction, tooth implants and bone grafting, but also provides facial reconstruction, including jaw reconstruction to fix a patient’s bite or to move the jaw and teeth for braces, which is done together with a patient’s orthodontist, or to correct a condition resulting from facial trauma. Rutner also offers elective facial cosmetic surgery, which includes Botox, facial fillers for fine lines and wrinkles, facial resurfacing using the latest equipment in CO2 laser facial skin resurfacing, eyelid surgery, facial mole removal and more.

When COVID-19 hit last year, and Rutner’s practice, like all dental practices at the time, was closed, he searched for a chesed that he could perform to help the community. “I wanted to do my part,” he said. His answer was COVID and antibody testing from his home, outdoors.

“At the beginning of COVID, I had my antibodies tested by a doctor in Englewood,” he continued. “It was so easy, and I realized that my anesthesia experience made blood draws for antibody testing a natural fit. Then I noticed there was a real void in antibody and COVID testing. At the time, antibody results took nearly three weeks and COVID results took seven to 14 days at best.”

Rutner reached out to Accu Reference Lab in Linden, and was able to secure testing kits and the ability to send an unlimited number of tests to the lab every day for processing. This partnership enabled Rutner to provide a much faster turnaround time for patients to receive test results. “At first it was three to five days; now we get results in 24 to 36 hours,” he said.

“By testing in a timely fashion, we were able to protect other people by preventing spread from asymptomatic carriers. I think and hope we saved a lot of lives.”

At first, people would go to his home for testing; antibody testing was done inside and COVID testing was done while patients remained in the comfort and safety of their cars. Once the office reopened, Rutner trained his staff, and they began doing testing there as well. “Patients pulled into the parking lot of the office and we swabbed them in their cars,” he said.

“As dentists, we know how to protect ourselves from infectious materials. We had donated some of the PPE from our office to the frontline workers, but we had everything we needed and were prepared to offer the testing,” he noted.

“I was doing testing in my office on weekdays, and at my home in the evenings and on Sunday mornings,” he continued. “I also offered my services to the schools, Kushner and JEC, to help them with outbreaks or possible cases.”

By providing this service to the local schools, Rutner was able to keep them in session, and out of quarantine, on numerous occasions. “They could get the results quickly and the kids could go back to school. That was important for continuity,” he said. “Also, they wouldn’t have to wait in a clinic with strangers, and be afraid they could contract COVID.”

Rutner did his best to streamline the testing process; patients were encouraged to “call, fill out a short form and get the test done. … We spoke to the insurance companies and they approved out-of-network benefits. I didn’t collect anything beyond what the insurance companies paid,” he remarked. There is a fee for testing for those without insurance.

“Helping the schools parlayed into helping people going on vacation, seeing family. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to get this testing done. Eventually I was testing people from other communities and neighborhoods,” Rutner recalled. “I was happy to help families be able to see each other. Friends and family could travel, have a medical procedure, go back to school and work, and not worry that they were infected and could pass the virus to someone else.

“This was my way of giving back. I couldn’t go into the hospitals, couldn’t treat people with COVID. That was too much stress on my family, dental patients and staff in my office. This was how I could help out, how I could do my part during this crisis,” he reflected.

Rutner continues to offer COVID testing, both in the office and at his home after hours, and maintains his oral surgery practice as well. He takes referrals from general dentists and other specialists, but also welcomes direct calls from patients.

“If someone has a dental emergency, we always make time in the day to fit them into our schedule,” he said.

Rutner participates in most major dental plans. He can be reached at 908-654-6030 or via the office website at www.centerfororalfacialsurgery.com.

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