Previewing Dentistry's "New Normal"
You don't need me to tell you that our entire world has been turned upside down by COVID-19. I'm not sure what I imagined for 2020, but it certainly wasn't a world where people were asked to stay 6 feet apart, grocery shopping was a strategic venture, and dental offices were closed. These last few months have been an adjustment, to say the least! However, when I'm writing this, restrictions are beginning to be lifted, and we will be able to test the waters of a new normal soon.
For the last few months, I've been spending my time learning about this virus and how to protect all of us in a dental environment. My team and I have always prided ourselves on offering a clean, sterile, high-tech environment to our patients. The virulence and ease of transmission of COVID-19 have challenged all of us in the health care industry to excel at infection control.
Dentistry involves close contact and aerosols, so we have to be extremely vigilant. Here are just a few of the things we'll be doing to adapt our office to the new normal.
1. The reception room is closed. We ask that you call us from your car when you arrive for your appointment. We'll let you know when we're ready for you. Children can have one adult accompany them unless other arrangements have been made before arrival.
2. We will be screening patients for any early signs of illness. This includes checking your temperature, asking you a few questions, and checking your sense of smell. You will also be given hand sanitizer. If any red flags come up, we'll ask you to reschedule your appointment. Two weeks is a short time to wait to ensure everyone's safety.
3. Please wear a mask to your appointment.
4. Team members will wear N95 masks, gowns, gloves, hair covers, and face shields. The equipment I've secured is high quality and is changed between every patient.
5. We'll be adding some high-tech equipment to our treatment rooms, including air purifiers with ultraviolet-light technology that will scrub the air. We will also be using mobile UV-C lights for a greater level of air sanitation and traditional surface disinfection between patient visits.
6. High volume extra-oral vacuum machines will be added to each treatment room. These units are designed to clean the air of large amounts of aerosol spray. They have HEPA filters and UV-C light scrubbers to sanitize the air as work progresses.
7. Because of all of our extra precautions, appointment scheduling will be challenging. We need to allow time to perform these tasks and time for them to be effective. There may be fewer choices. Appointments may take longer, and we will want to address your treatment needs in fewer appointments.
8. Patients can phone in changes to their insurance and email copies of the card's front and back to StumpfDental@gmail.com.
9. Patients can make payments at the office and via our website, BestCareInTheChair.com.
10. Due to the use of additional and specialized personal protective equipment, there may be an additional fee on your statement for these added costs.
My goal with all of these measures isn’t to scare you but to show you just how seriously my team and I are taking this virus. I will be watching the numbers on infection rates in our area and listening to recommendations from the CDC and the WDA/ADA. If the situation changes, I will respond accordingly. Please watch your email and check our Facebook page for updates. It is the best way to communicate with all of you in a rapidly changing environment.
If you have high blood pressure, are over 60, or have any other health issues that put you at risk for serious complications, and you want to wait a bit to schedule, we completely understand. In the meantime, you can still reach us remotely. We have incorporated tele-dentistry into our practice, so I can easily hop on a video call with you to examine your mouth and talk through any symptoms you’re having. To learn more about that option, please call the office, and Patty will set that up for you.
No one can predict what the future will hold, but I’m confident in the steps we’ve taken. Until a vaccine is created, or a rapid diagnostic test is available, we will keep these precautions in place for your safety. I hope you’re doing well, and I can’t wait to see you.
Wishing you safety and good health,
Janelle Ferber-Stumpf, DDS