The New York Times tracker reports Puerto Rico COVID-19 vaccination rates at 75% (received one shot), and 67% (fully vaccinated).

Dr. Luis A. Toro is not surprised. In private practice in Fajardo and Carolina, Puerto Rico, Dr. Toro says his efforts to maintain a safe practice have been well-supported by local views of pandemic protocols.

“Mask-wearing has never been a political issue here,” he says. Dr. Toro’s waiting area traffic has also been moderated through the pandemic by family routines that often allow young people a fair amount of independence. The majority of his patients are children and teens.

“While families here are close-knit, older children and teens are often permitted to go places on their own after school, including orthodontic appointments,” he says. “Since there’s always a need to drive to an orthodontic appointment, because both parents typically work grandparents often do the driving, dropping patients off and picking them up when they are finished.

“While it is usually difficult to see parents in person, I know they are reinforcing my instructions about treatment compliance with their kids,” he says.

Dr. Toro’s own family includes three orthodontists. His father, Dr. Luis Toro Sr., passed away last year, not long after he retired from orthodontic practice at age 89. His daughter, Dr. Veronica Toro, graduated from the University of Washington orthodontic residency program in 2018.

With his practice on track and his daughter settled in a practice that she purchased in Shoreline, Washington, Dr. Toro looks forward to renewing contacts with colleagues.

A past president of the Puerto Rican Society of Orthodontic Specialists and the Middle Atlantic Society of Orthodontists (MASO), Dr. Toro has long had a commitment to volunteer leadership in orthodontics. He was the MASO delegation chair to the 2020 AAO House of Delegates; previously served on the AAO Council on Insurance; and is currently MASO’s representative on the AAO Council on Membership, Ethics, and Judicial Concerns (COMEJC).

“I am delighted that MASO will soon have our first in-person Annual Session since the start of the pandemic, and the fact that we will be welcoming everyone to Puerto Rico makes it even better,” says Dr. Toro. The MASO Annual Session will be November 4-7 in Grand Rio Mar, Puerto Rico. *

Dr. Toro also looks forward to the AAO COMEJC, which he joined in 2017, re-initiating in-person meetings. The next meeting is scheduled in St. Louis on January 8.

“It has been very rewarding to be part of the council that addresses membership concerns for the AAO,” he says. “The AAO provides great benefits for members across many areas and of course, there is no other way to enjoy the level of continuing education and opportunities to network with colleagues that we have as members. Also, the state and federal-level political advocacy work is key to ensuring our specialty has a strong future.”

Another favorite AAO member benefit that Dr. Toro appreciates is the opportunity to participate in the Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) program. Over the past 10 years, DOS participants have provided free or discounted treatment to approximately 1,000 patients.

“The DOS program helps make it easy to provide pro bono treatment by providing initial vetting of patients in need,” he says. “They are wonderful patients and it is very enjoyable to work with them.”

* Access information about other upcoming AAO constituent meetings by clicking here.

NOTE:  The AAO is observing National Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) in part by spotlighting members from Latino/Hispanic backgrounds. From 2019 – 2021, AAO members identifying as Latino/Hispanic increased from 0.3% to 4.0% of U.S. and Canadian membership.

Many North American AAO members of all racial and ethic groups, of course, often treat patients from Spanish-speaking families. As a reminder, the AAO offers Spanish-language legal resources that are useful for U.S. practices, including the Informed Consent form, HIPAA Privacy Notice, medical and health history forms, and supplemental informed consent forms addressing specific needs.

Click here to access Spanish-language forms .
(Scroll down to Spanish Releases and Waivers. Log-in will be required to access these AAO member-specific materials.)