How Dr. Chan in Gilroy Is Making His Dental Office A Safe Place Post COVID -19
In light of COVID-19, many patients are wondering whether dental offices will ever be safe places again. We have read the articles and kept up with the news, but even so, preparing to return to our regular routines and habits, as usual has been a heavy cloud hanging over our heads.
Amid the jumble of thoughts, we all may have been uncertain about our first visits back to our doctors, dentists, hair dressers, etc. Dr. Chan himself has been on a journey to making our dental practice aseptic yet welcoming, and has been doing extensive research on whether there is a protocol to follow as we reopen our dental practice.
Following the advice and counsel of many esteemed colleagues, professional journals, associations and governing bodies, Dr. Chan answers a variety of questions about when, what, and how he has implemented changes in his dental practice to ensure the health and safety of his team and his patients in the United States’ epicenter of COVID-19. Perhaps your fears and concerns can be appeased from reading about Dr. Chan’s plans in this time of uncertainty.
First off, Dr. Chan, have you resumed normal business hours in your dental practice?
We have not resumed our office hours yet. We are still only seeing emergency patients.
Is your entire team back in the office now?
No, but hopefully by Tuesday, May 26th, 2020.
What was the first step you took to ready your practice so you and your team could resume practicing dentistry?
We made sure that our infection control measures were up-to-date and we updated and trained our staff. We also implemented elimination, substitution, engineering, and administrative controls.
Is there a protocol you followed when reopening your practice?
We have staff protocols, patient protocols, and practice protocols similar to what the American Dental Association released.
In light of COVID-19, what are the things you consider absolutely essential to change or upgrade in your practice to make it safe?
I would say a good pre-screening system and adherence to good infection control standards are a must.
What process(es) do you now have in place for a standard patient visit that are different from those pre–COVID-19?
We do more pre-screening, patient-distancing appointments, eliminate all appointments when patients are sick, and do symptom-checking when we are at the office. We do more online communication, including form completion.
What have you done to make your dental team comfortable with the level of workplace safety in your practice?
We bought adapters to maximize our high volume evacuation (HVE), extraoral vacuums, and of course use proper PPE, including face shields which will fit over our magnifying loupes. We removed portable fans, extra items off counters.
What steps have you taken to make sure your patients feel like your practice is safe?
Constant email and phone communication.
How do you separate healthy patients from sick ones?
We pre-screen patients before appointments as well as perform in-office patient screenings.
Do you test your staff for COVID-19, and if so, how?
Yes, all staff have been asked to be tested for COVID – 19 prior to our re-opening date. We have left it up to the individuals, as to the testing procedure.
Have you had to raise your fees to cover increased safety measures performed in your office?
Yes, we raised our fees to include a nominal PPE charge for each visit. Since insurance companies only allow fee change approvals annually, for this year we were unable to include the increased fees due to safety measures into each procedure.
Do you use teledentistry, and if so, for which patients?
Not yet, but we will soon have that capability. Yes, for a variety of situations, including post-operative patients.
What has been your greatest challenge in the transition process from stay-at-home orders to getting back to work?
We have not opened the office fully yet. We just see emergencies.
Do you have any advice to share with your patients?
Keep abreast of the latest developments and knowledge regarding COVID-19 as the material and agency recommendations are constantly changing. Follow social distancing, frequently practice hand sanitization, eat healthy, exercise regularly, enjoy life. I and my staff miss our patients and the relationships we have built over the years. We hope to see you soon!