As Dental Offices are allowed to reopen across the country, you may have some questions about how to open your practice safely. Many found themselves faced with many questions regarding how safe to make their office before reopening and how far to take those safety measures. Due to the lack of unified clear recommendations from the ADA and CDC; dentists found themselves taken to the “Wait and See” approach or the “Anticipate/ Proactive” approach, when prepping their dental office to seeing patients again.
The “Wait and See” Approach
There is nothing wrong with being conservative and embrace the Wait and See approach.
The priority is in getting done what is currently known or has been established as acceptable minimum procedures and protocols. Both the staff and patient need to be safe and protected when in the office working or for treatments.
Wait and See could mean:
a. Observing what other Dentists are doing to prepare for the reopening of their office and learn of their failures and successes before adopting and implementing the ones that have good acceptance and results in your office.
b. Installing physical fixtures or accessories to convey and encourage social distancing recommendations.
c. Establishing new protocols for communicating with patients and seeing patients when they arrive for appointments.
d. Updating PPE guidelines per current CDC recommendations.
e. Changing existing accessories, within the office, to no-touch accessories minimizing the need to touch frequently used accessories.
Wait and See, however, does not mean doing nothing and sticking with the pre-pandemic status quo. The re-opening of businesses does come with stipulated guidelines and recommendations to follow/observe, if you are open and seeing patients, which should be adhered to.
New information is being discovered and disseminated daily that may ease or may be more stringent for adhering to new (yet to be established) enforceable infection control protocols.
Follow the State’s and CDC’s current re-open guidelines while you wait and see to safeguard yourself, your staff, your patients and not open yourself up to potential litigation for not being in compliance.
Even after you open, you may wait and see what your colleagues do. You open because you are allowed to, but maybe you’re not sure what to change and you’ll wait for guidance either by observation or by guidelines and requirements being set.
The “Anticipate & Proactive” Approach
You have done everything necessary, as recommended, to get ready for the reopening of the office and to see patients. Patient communication and interaction, Social Distancing, PPE; all are in proper order; but there has got to be more that you can do and want to do, but what?
You can anticipate new developments and regulatory guidelines and be proactive in getting done what needs to be done and put whatever into place to accomplish that. This may be something we deal with forever-maybe not just this virus, but a different one in the future.
Points to remember:
- Treat everyone like they have the virus.
- Virus gets discharged into the air, through coughs, sneezes, exhaling, and talking and larger droplets fall gradually to whatever surface is in its path, while smaller droplets can linger and be airborne for hours.
- Floors and horizontal surfaces are the biggest areas for pathogens to land on and be tracked and transferred around from place to place.
- Just because someone is not sick, they are still able to pass the virus to others.
- You cannot keep pathogens out of the building, but you can take measures to mitigate it.
Mitigate the Spread
Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in your dental office can be accomplished by implementing tested and proven technologies such as:
UV Lights which can be installed, without having to make alterations to the building, in the HVAC duct work to sterilize the air, ceiling mounted or mobile carts (while space being sterilized are not in use) to sterilize surfaces. This strategy will enhance the indoor air quality of your office without concern of conflicting with future regulatory guidelines or mandates.
Filtration HVAC system and or stand-alone filtration units are also good strategies. HVAC system, if designed and sized to have high performance filters, can play the big role in filtering and capturing particulates and pathogens out of the air stream, before the air returns back into the unit to be recirculated. Hospital grade standalone filtration units and or at point of use extra oral suction units can greatly reduce the volume of aerosol and pathogens within individual rooms or large open spaces. An added appeal with stand-alone filtration units is that if you lease the building you can take the units with you.
Currently there is no one way to kill the virus everywhere in your office.
You have to have a multi-layer approach to protect your staff and patients.
Be smart about what you choose to do.
Think of the changes you are making to disinfect and sterilize as an investment towards you and your staff’s safety and overall health.
In summary, whether you’re of the “Wait and See” or the “Anticipate & Proactive” mindset, to prepare for the re-opening of your office, at the minimum do the stipulate conditions, as recommended by the CDC/ the ADA. Implement measures and protocols for communication and interaction with patients before and while in for treatments. Adhere to social distancing guidelines, install sneeze guards at front desk and consult room and follow recommended PPE protocols.
Without doing an actual renovation, to make needed or wanted changes, UV Lights and Filtrations could be implemented, if financially feasible, and the rest as needed once enforceable guidelines and mandates are known.
We talked about this subject on our weekly radio show, you can listen to it here.
The HJT Difference
Your dental office is a direct representation of you, the dentist, and your visions. Making your patients feel happy and important as well as providing them with the best experience possible should always be your number one priority. It’s important that it reflects you and the quality of care you provide to your patients.
We’d welcome the opportunity to bring your visions to light through insightful designs that meet your clinical requirements and aesthetic criteria while optimizing efficiency and functionality for your practice’s everyday needs. You and your staff have adapted long enough, it’s time to de-stress and increase the positive vibes.
With our years of collective knowledge and experience, we have a deep understanding of the functionality and unique needs within the dental industry. We invite you to contact HJT (866) 213-1268 to start the dialogue regarding a plan for your current or new office and how we can implement your unique visions. We look forward to talking with you soon.