Happy accident allows Billings dental practice to share its face mask windfall

Happy accident allows Billings dental practice to share its face mask windfall

From the Here's the latest reporting on how area businesses and industries are being affected by the coronavirus series

Six years ago, Rubicon Dental Associates in Billings was growing quickly, adding dentists and dental practices to its association from all across Montana.

The growing company found itself struggling a little to keep its practices supplied with medical equipment, including face masks.

One of the company’s founders, dentist Remington Townsend, traced the source of the masks the company was buying back to a factory in China and ordered a shipping container full of supplies, not fully realizing how large a shipping container is.

“We kind of overshot the hole on that one,” Townsend joked.

Good thing they did. With the spread of the coronavirus, masks are suddenly in short supply and the dental group was sitting on more than 700,000 masks in storage.

They spread the word about their good fortune and soon were supplying surrounding hospitals with much-needed masks at cost. A hospital in Wyoming contacted them saying they were down to their last 100 masks.

“We had hospitals call kind of with hat in hand saying they heard we had masks, thinking it was too good to be true,” said Townsend, who runs Remington Family Dental in Billings.

One hospital couldn’t wait for the shipment and sent an employee to Billings to load the several cartons of masks into a horse trailer.

So far, the masks have gone to at least 13 area hospitals and clinics, the partners said.

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