Though the majority of dental practices reopened months ago, COVID-19 cases are undergoing a resurgence across the country. This means dentists must be even more diligent than before to keep practices open and safe. The process of reopening a practice can be overwhelming, but here’s a place to begin. Follow these 6 steps for a safe return amid COVID-19, based upon advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
1) Patient Communication: Many patients may be unfamiliar with new (Personal Protective Equipment) PPE and in-office guidelines. Be sure to share this information with them before the appointment. Technology and social media make communication simple – post or email a video tour walking through the office and operatories, so there are no surprises upon arrival.
2) Establish an Emergency Response: Before a patient steps foot into an operatory, prepare a response plan in the event a patient or team member contracts COVID-19. Refer to both CDC and state guidelines when putting together a response
3) Temperature Checks and Pre-Screening: Deliver a brief screening survey, either via phone or email, to a patient one day prior to their scheduled appointments. The screening should ask if the patient has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days.
4) Remove Non-Essential Items: Dispose of any high-touch items in the office, such as magazines, flyers, brochures. Replace with hand sanitizer.
5) Steady Supply of PPE: Find a trusted source of safe, authentic PPE to keep both patients and team members safe while in the office.
6) Mindfulness: The healthcare profession requires mental and physical stamina. Add the stressor of COVID-19, and dental teams are feeling the strain. The CDC recommends that healthcare personnel practice mindfulness techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, to avoid feeling overwhelmed in the workplace or day’s end.
Remember that as a healthcare professional, you serve as a trusted resource for your patients. Take all necessary precautions to protect patients and your office team after reopening. Refer to sources such as the Benco Learning Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Dental Association, as well as local and state governments for accurate, up-to-date information on protocols.