On the ground in New York City with Dr. Abdulla Zoobi and his team during the worst of the pandemic.

“NOBODY WAS OUT,” Dr. Abdulla Zoobi says. “Everyone was at home. You were outside with people who shouldn’t have been outside. It wasn’t a safe environment.”

That was the situation on New York’s streets in April and May, to say nothing of the condition of its overwhelmed hospitals, during the frenzied early months of the pandemic, when the Big Apple unwittingly found itself a global hotspot.

Dr. Zoobi, who is 40 years old, runs two Elements Dental practices in the city: one in Astoria, Queens, the other in Midtown Manhattan. Remarkably, the general dentist was able to keep his offices open to help triage some of the patient burden away from New York’s emergency rooms, which were being pummeled.

“At first we tried to volunteer with hospitals, but they had an influx,” Dr. Zoobi recalls with understatement. “So our way to help was to come into our practice every day and weed out the nonemergency cases.” He even took out a cable-television ad to let locals know Elements Dental was open for emergencies. That generated considerable business. “We’ve kept it affordable from day one,” he says of his economic model.
“A lot of our patients were pinched financially even before Covid-19. They asked around, and that led them to us.”

The exhaustion and grievous uncertainty of those early weeks have abated, Dr. Zoobi notes, and New York street life is adopting a more normal cast. “Eateries are starting to come back. In March and April, nobody was open. It was very tough.”

While no ethical medical professional would ever wish for a pandemic as a business boost, the strenuous work Dr. Zoobi and his team have put in hasn’t been without its compensations. “We got to meet and assist a lot of good people,” he says. “It was satisfying. It felt good to help.”

Dr. Abdulla Zoobi is a member of this year’s Incisal Edge 40 Under 40.