Important Information Regarding COVID-19

Updated 05/06/20:   

Helllloooooo everyone! Thank you for reading this as I’ve asked of you. 🙂 We have already received so many messages from peeps wanting appointments. It is gratifying that so many of you are ready to go! But…in light of the Governor’s recent conference we do have to make some things clear. Just because we got the ‘go ahead’ doesn’t mean we can. Most of us in the dental community find it ironic that being in THE riskiest profession we were given the okay to be the first to open. Doesn’t really add up. And, the CDC website still maintains emergency appointments only. The protocol is supposed to be a prolonged, measureable decrease in the number of cases, followed by 14 days beyond that, of quarantine, before reopening.  The VDH reported almost 800 new cases from 05/04-05/05!  So, we have to take it slow.
   The goal for my office is to reopen for specific and limited treatment on Monday, May 18th.  I cannot say this is definitive as we STILL DO NOT have the necessary PPE.  The supply chain is still nearly empty–in fact, one of my suppliers said “It’s the wild, wild west out there”, and trying to source things from legit vendors is getting harder and harder. There are so many fraudulent dealers that my colleagues have fallen victim to.  The many items I have on order are not guaranteed to arrive since the suppliers say they have no idea what comes in each shipment.  They find out once it arrives and they open it!  So we are rolling the dice that we will receive enough supply next week to at least open for a few days.  It is possible we may have to open/close, cyclically, as supplies come in and are depleted.
   We also received a 52 PAGE MANUAL from the American Dental Association on all the rules and protocols we must put in place in order to see patients. Setting that in motion doesn’t happen overnight.
   From a patient perspective, you need to be aware of what is coming and how things will change. I know we are horribly behind on appointments and that won’t end any time soon. We will be seeing FAR fewer patients each day, certain procedures are still not encouraged, and many are being directed to be modified. Once we reopen, it is still highly likely that current appointments will be CANCELLED and rescheduled, in order to prioritize needs and meet protocols. Hygiene visits are supposed to be postponed!!  Due to all the added constraints, appointment times and options will be more limited, so we need you to be more flexible with your schedules.  I have not yet determined what I will personally do, but it’s also being encouraged NOT TO POLISH teeth with polishing paste once our hygiene appointments resume. We are to remove all the bacteria and ‘big stuff’ with hand instruments, but you may not leave with that slick, squeaky clean feeling.
   There is a fairly extensive “precheck” patients will need to do prior to their appointment. Taryn will be performing some of these by phone and again as you enter the office, and you can find the required documents here on our website once I upload them.  You MUST print and complete them and bring them to your appointment!
   Per the requirements, we will no longer be allowed to have patients waiting in the reception area. You will have to call us upon your arrival, wait in your cars, and then we’ll call you back when we’re ready for you to come inside. You will be required to perform hand sanitization, immediately, along with a health questionnaire and temperature taking. ALL PEOPLE ENTERING MUST ALSO BE WEARING A MASK. I know that sounds crazy since you’ll be opening your mouth for the subsequent hour, but we don’t make the rules.
   I suggest everyone bring a sweater because the office will now be VERY COLD due to the Ghostbuster attire we have to wear. The surgeons and endodontists who saw our emergency patients for us since the outbreak have said it’s almost impossible to breathe through the n95 masks and thus tires you out quickly, and it’s extremely hot to work under the 3 layers we now have to wear. Therefore, we need cold temps. Dentistry requires 100%, non-stop concentration. It was already exhausting…COVID takes it to another level.  Additionally, we have to add time on to all appointments in order to maintain OSHA standards for disinfecting and ‘precheck’.  Finally, long treatment appointments (meaning multiple teeth) are still highly discouraged due to the aerosol production and because of the difficulty working beneath the n95 masks.  We will likely have to complete treatment over multiple, shorter appointments.  I wish it could be different. 🙁                                         I’m doing all I possibly can to make the environment safe and healthy for ALL of us.  We now have multiple, medical-grade air purifiers in the office, we will be changing coats/gowns for every patient, sterilizing the gowns, and Taryn will be vigilant with wiping down counters, door handles, and credit cards before use!                                                                           Another important item to note for our patients—obviously dentistry is an aerosol-based occupation and that is how the virus spreads.  Thus, one of the new regulations is to use high volume suction devices for ALL procedures, and sometimes multiple devices.  Many of you have already tried out these gizmos in my office in recent months, because I love them and they truly they make it easier for both of us.  Though they’ve been met with overwhelming positive response, there’s always a few who aren’t in favor.  I know it may be tough, but it is no longer an option NOT to use them.  You will have your mouth open–you can still breath through it, or your nose! Nothing will be impeding or blocking your airway.  Sometimes you just have to take a minute to get used to it and then it’s easy-peasy from there, but it is mandatory.
   Taryn and I do look forward to seeing everyone. And though our faces will basically be Saran-wrapped, we’ll be smiling beneath.  On a personal level, I am saddened that I won’t get to have the great conversations I’ve had with so many of you for so many years.  I fear new patients will not get to know the kind of dentist I want and used to be. 🙁 OSHA wants you in and out as fast as possible.  Know that my ‘shortness’ of conversation or lack of it isn’t personal and isn’t MY choice.                 We thank you in advance and extend our gratitude for your understanding and cooperation. Together, we can help keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. We encourage all of our wonderful patients to continue using this time to get those pesky home projects completed, reconnect with your children and loved ones, reflect on what you find important in life, and nail down that flossing regimen, because I WILL still be inquiring about your home care!                                                        Stay healthy!                                                                                                                                                                                  Dr. Dina & Taryn-the-Dynamo