COVID-19 Office Update
Written By: Carly Peterschmidt, DMD
[Updated March 29, 2022]
We want you to know that we are following the current recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Dental Association, and Oregon Health Authority to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Thankfully, throughout the pandemic, studies have shown that dental offices have effectively prevented transmission of COVID-19. There are guidelines to help medical facilities in our approach to continuing patient care in the midst of this pandemic. These guidelines state that our office must:
- Have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for our clinicians as recommended by the CDC
- Adhere to strict infection control policies as recommended by the CDC
- Decrease caseload volume to maximize social distancing
- Implement patient screening techniques
COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS
- Patient Communication
We have implemented additional reminder text messages for upcoming appointments. If you have elected to receive text messages, you will receive an appointment reminder one week prior to your visit. One day prior to your visit, the car check-in procedures will be described. Two hours prior to your visit, you will receive a link to fill out a Coronavirus Questionnaire. Two days after your visit, you will receive a follow-up message to report any symptoms within 14 days after your visit. For those who do not have a cell phone, all of these procedures will be performed verbally via phone call.
- Personal Protective Equipment
It is a state requirement to wear a mask/ face covering in healthcare facilities despite recent relaxed mask guidelines in other settings. We are following this requirement, and ask that you do not enter our office without a mask. We ask that all patients wear a face covering when entering the building until we instruct them to remove it and also upon completion of their visit/ exit of their treatment room. If there is anyone who is unable to wear a face covering, please make special arrangements by calling us prior to entering our facility.
You will notice we will be wearing extra protection during your visit. Where we used to welcome you without our protective gear on, we hope you will understand and not find it unfriendly when we greet you with all of our protective gear already on. All providers will be wearing appropriate masks for the procedure being performed, as outlined by the CDC and
- Patient and Staff Screening
We have a strict policy for our staff members to stay home or go home if they have or develop any symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Patients are asked to inform our office prior to all appointments if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days, if they have had a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath within the last 14 days, and if they have had any contact with SARS-CoV-2 biologic material in the last 14 days. From there, our office can help determine if a patient’s appointment needs to be rescheduled based on the most up-to-date guidance.
Post-operative follow-up texts/ calls will be made to learn if anyone develops symptoms within 48 hours of their dental visit.
- Infection Control
Thankfully, the dental profession was already enforcing strict infection protocols for prevention of disease transmission prior to the Coronavirus. The surface disinfectants and sterilization methods we use are approved for killing SARS-CoV-2. We now allow extra time for aerosolized particles to settle before wiping rooms, per the current recommendation of the ADA.
In addition, we have increased disinfection of non-clinical areas, such as the reception area and bathroom. We have removed items from the office that patients frequently touch, like the magazines and books, pens, beverage station, and lip balm jar. If there is anything you would like that you don’t see out, please just ask 😊.
- Aerosol-Producing Procedures
n theory, we would hope that no one who makes it past our screening procedures and is instructed to take off their mask for dental work would be infected with Coronavirus, but we do know that those who are carriers of the disease may not necessarily be symptomatic. There are certain procedures in dentistry that produce large amounts of aerosols. Aerosolized viral particles can cause a higher risk for disease transmission.
We have implemented multiple methods to reduce aerosols to prevent others from breathing in these particles. One major advantage we have in our office are the walls and cabinetry between operatories. We have upgraded our HVAC system filters and have installed HALO-LED Whole Home Air Purification Systems. Within each operatory, we have implemented improved high-volume evacuation techniques, as well as individual HEPA air filtration units with redirection of air flow towards the filters. We have also increased time between appointments to allow for particles to settle and be filtered out of the air.
- Social Distancing
To limit contact between individuals, we are limiting the number of patients allowed in our office during this time. Outside of treatment areas, we are adhering to 6-foot distancing from one another and wearing masks. We have implemented car check-in features to prevent patients from waiting in the reception area. If you do not have a car to wait in, please do call us to make special arrangements.
We will be strategizing daily to keep patients from being in contact with one another during check-in and check-out times. This may involve pre-filling out paperwork before your appointment. We will let you know details before your appointment. Also, we ask that during this time you do not bring anyone with you to your appointment, with the exception of parents of minors, caregivers, and interpreters.
We have been working since May 2020 with these new protocols and we have felt very safe treating our patients. We have had positive feedback from patients about also feeling safe and thanking us for what we are doing to follow the guidelines of our governing bodies.
We are looking forward to seeing you again at your next dental visit and will keep you updated as recommendations change 😊.