[Updated April 27, 2020]
To Our Patients Who We Miss So Much,
After 7 weeks of postponing all non-emergent dental visits to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to help with the shortage of personal protective equipment, the state of Oregon is allowing dentists to slowly return to patient care. As stated in the press release from the Governor’s Office, there are certain guidelines, which were outlined by the Oregon Health Authority, to help medical facilities approach resuming patient care. 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
We are looking forward to seeing our patients again and will be taking necessary steps to do so safely. The health and safety of our patients and our team is our number one priority! Below, I have listed some specific subjects with a description of protocols we are putting into place to help put your mind at ease.
- Personal Protective Equipment
Access to personal protective equipment is currently the biggest limiting factor to seeing more patients. We did receive a shipment today from the Oregon Health Authority to slowly begin seeing patients. Halleluiah!
- Infection Control
Thankfully, the dental profession already follows strict infection protocols for prevention of disease transmission. The surface disinfectants and sterilization methods we use are approved for killing SARS-CoV-2. We have been and will continue to increase 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
There are certain procedures in dentistry that produce large amounts of aerosols. Aerosolized viral particles can cause a high risk for disease transmission. There are methods to reduce aerosols that we will be implementing in our office. These methods include improved high-volume evacuation techniques, use of rubber dams when appropriate, and HEPA air filtration.
- Patient Screening
We have adopted pre-screening questions recommended by the CDC to help identify anyone who may be at higher risk of having COVID-19. We will not be treating anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during this time. The hospital will be a better place for those individuals to recover. All staff and patients will have their temperature checked in the office the day of your appointment. Pre-treatment hydrogen peroxide rinses will be performed on all patients, as it is theorized that it would kill any viral particles in the oral cavity. Post-operative follow-up calls will be made to learn if anyone develops symptoms within 48 hours of their dental visit.
- Social Distancing
We will be limiting the number of staff and patients in our office during this time. Outside of treatment areas, we will be following 6-foot distancing from one another and wearing masks. We will be implementing car check-in features to prevent patients from waiting in the reception area. We will be strategizing 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 and caregivers.
If you have an appointment that is scheduled in the coming months, we will be in contact with you shortly before your visit to discuss possible altering of your appointment time and/or to perform pre-screening. If you have already requested to be seen sooner than our previous back-to-work date of June 15th, we will be making those calls shortly. We ask that you please do be patient with us during this time, as we will be catching up on a large number of rescheduled appointments, which requires time and a lot of communication.
We are all looking forward to seeing you again soon!