How to Make Your Dental Office Reception Space COVID Approved

August 5, 2020

As you and your dental team welcome back patients in a post-COVID world, their first steps into your office should inspire confidence. Where to begin? Create an environment that aligns safety and workflow, but consider your interior aesthetic.

START WITH A SCREENING STATION

You’ve most likely adapted thoroughly and quickly to the new normal, meeting at the patient’s car to accommodate the latest safety checklist and CDC guidelines. Now, consider something more sustainable.
Assemble an organized screening station either in an office vestibule or use partitions to create an area in your reception area.

If the office already features a vestibule:

1. Select a small table where a team member can quickly cover the basic questions with patients. Have all the necessities at the ready, but avoid clutter by incorporating an attractive tray for a thermometer, hand sanitizer, gloves, and extra masks, in the case a patient arrives without one.

2. For a more permanent solution, consider a wall-mounted “Sanitary Station,” to hold hand sanitizer, tissues or masks. There are various wall-mounted units to choose from.

wall mounted hand sanitizer unit

No vestibule? No problem.

Use partitions to carve out a spot for screenings at the check-in station. Once complete, a patient gains access to the rest of the reception area.

Design Tip: Protected your reception team with a countertop partition panel featuring an opening at bottom for exchanges as opposed to an awkward reach over a 36-inch barrier. Now, credit cards can be accepted here, and in the future, paperwork or payments.

 

Compare four partition options:

1. Commercially-upholstery. All require routine maintenance to sanitize, but most varieties offer durability.

2. Plexiglas. Consider for countertops versus spots that require 6-foot sections. If not assembled correctly, larger plexiglas pieces can bow.

3. Resin. Bolt to the ground, mount from the ceiling or assemble on castors for added bonus of mobility.

4. Acoustical Panels. Most are formed from felt, though one newer option made from recycled bottles can be more easily mopped or dusted.

Design Tip: Glass partitions, fragile and costly, are not ideal.

 

NEXT STOP: RECEPTION SPACE

Make a clean sweep.

1. Remove all magazines, toys and standing charging stations to avoid any conflict or discomfort among patients who are sharing the space.

2. Discontinue use of your beverage station. Do not re-stock the refrigerator, disconnect the Keurig. Mobile station? Roll it out of the room or repurpose its use. Fixed location? Reclaim newly-cleared countertop surface for an additional sanitation station supplied with disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer.

3. Consider size. If the waiting room is large, set up three smaller sanitation spots, if smaller, one central location.

Refer to our dental office reception area checklist to make sure you don’t miss a beat when preparing your waiting area, bathrooms and consultation rooms.

Design Tip: Remember, you’ve removed most entertainment options. If a waiting room TV has been on your wish list, now might be the time to start shopping.

 

Scope out seating.

1. Spread out a bit. Offer flexibility at every turn. Keep a few chairs together for families.

2. Incorporate a mix of soft seating and hard seating, upholstered and non-upholstered. Vinyl upholstery is preferable. Fabric upholstery will hold up to EPA cleaning protocol, as long as it is healthcare grade.

3. Right size. Think about options such as plus-size seating to accommodate older patients, parents with children or accessories, such as diaper bags.

 

WHY NOT START A WISH LIST?

If a new construction is in your future, add a few nice-to-haves into your reception room design.

1. Visibility to the vestibule from the check-in area. This eliminates stationing a second staffer at a pre-screen station.

2. Wall-mounted dispensers. Pre-plan where and how they’ll be positioned.

3. Tabletop sanitary stations.

4. Healthcare grade furniture from a manufacturer like Herman Miller