What a whirlwind the last 2 months have been! It has been a stressful and scary time filled with uncertainty and unknown for what the future may hold. Our office is blessed to be part of such a wonderful community, and it has been heartwarming to see the community come together as it has. We are all thankful for our health and the health of our families and friends during this time, and are endlessly thinking about those directly and indirectly affected by this unfortunate pandemic.
While we are excited to get back to the office, we have spent the past several weeks reading, learning, and studying how we can best serve our patients as safely as possible during this time. As a dental office, we already have very robust infection control protocols in place meant to combat a myriad of infectious diseases, but given the nature of COVID-19, we’ve implemented several additions to these protocols to better protect ourselves and our patients.
- The first is the complete replacement of the office floor and all carpeting. We have also added 5 HEPA-13 air filtration units. These units are individually equipped to filter a room size larger than our entire office 1x/hour, so in our smaller space the air will be filtered multiple times per hour, and will filter particles down to 0.01 microns (the smallest COVID-19 particle is thought to be 0.06 microns).
- We have purchased extra high volume suction equipment to minimize aerosols created during cleaning, as well as treatment appointments.
- We will continuously disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, pens, iPad, etc. (anything someone might touch from the front desk to the treatment room) at high frequency.
- We will heavily screen patients over the phone, and again when they present to their appointment. We will take temperatures on everyone upon arrival and ask patients to sign a waiver confirming that they are symptom free. If you are not feeling well or have been in large groups of 10 or more in the past 7 days, we kindly ask that you reschedule your appointment.
- For the immediate future, we will not use our waiting room for patients or family. We will utilize a “virtual waiting room” to minimize patient to patient contact. Patients will be asked to call or text our office when they arrive for their appointment, but remain in their car or outside until we call or text them to come in. A member of our team will greet them at the door, and bring them straight back for screening and their appointment. We ask that patients avoid bringing friends and family with them to their appointments as they will be asked to stay outside or in the car. Exceptions will be made for children or those with special needs, and those attending the appointment with them will also be required to go through the screening process.
- We have removed all magazines, communal refreshments, and the treasure chest from the front office.
- Patients will be asked to wear a mask or cloth face covering to their appointment, and we will have hand sanitizer available for use upon arrival.
- The number of patients in the office will be limited with extended time between appointments to support patient distancing and leave extra time for air filtration and disinfection.
- Patients will use a pre-treatment rinse prior to any aerosol generating procedure. This has been shown to be effective at killing bacteria and viruses for a short time, so even if a patient does happen to be a silent carrier of the virus, this will significantly decrease the viral load in their mouth and the environment.
- The restroom will no longer be available to patients, as it would be impossible for our team to insure a virus free environment for anyone, due to the traffic of its communal use.
- All team members will be screened daily with temperatures taken, and asked to stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Our team will wear additional personal protective equipment to keep them safe, and have all been trained on the latest practices for minimizing transmission of the virus.
During this time things may seem different in the dental office just as they are in our regular lives, protective protocols will continue to evolve as the world learns more about this virus and how to keep everyone safe. Rest assured that we will stay up to date with all new developments, and will implement all recommended protocols designed to keep you and our team safe while here in the office.
We understand that as the COVID-19 situation has unfolded, all of us have been faced with questions about how to lead our daily lives and been met with uncertainty and frustration. Please reach out to our office if you have any questions or concerns about anything. We will be a resource for you in any way that we can, even if it doesn’t pertain to your dental visit.
We will remain available by phone as we have been throughout this time for emergencies, scheduling/rescheduling appointments, and any general inquiries you might have.
We truly appreciate your trust and loyalty, and hope to return that with the honest, high quality care we love to provide to you and your family. We have all missed our patients as well as each other, and are very excited to see everyone back at the office!
Best wishes to you and your families!
Betty Jean-Mary DMD