Meticulous Infection control protocol has long been standard practice at every dental office. To ensure the safety of providers and patients in a post-pandemic world, changes and improvements in these procedures are directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other authorities.
When renovating or planning a new construction project, consider a design to make infection control easier: the donning room. Think of it as an ante-room between the clinical side and office side of the practice.
A standard used in hospitals, this area will allow a dental team member to walk in wearing office clothes and leave wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE includes, but is not limited to, face shields, gloves, masks/respirators, gowns, caps, and shoe covers, and will likely be a part of the new uniform for staff members for the foreseeable future.
Here, dental care providers can apply PPE gear over their office uniform before entering any clinical areas. This room can only be used while traveling from team to clinical areas in order to properly maintain the separation between clean and dirty.
The 2018 Facilities Guidelines Institute (FGI), which hospitals and health care facilities consult as a resource, offers Guidelines for Design and Construction. The tips that follow can be a starting point for designing a donning room at a dental practice. Before finalizing plans, consult CDC directives or enlist the help of a design professional.
- Create a positive pressure room. Push air out of the room to ensure that contaminates aren’t drawn in due to air pressure.
- Set up the space. Design a room suitable for clothing changes that features a mirror bench.
- Outfit the area. Include a highly-organized PPE storage section and a handwashing sink.
- Establish the flow. Map a one-way flow of traffic, from unprotected to clean PPE.
- Communicate the rules. Never bring in soiled PPE. Dispose or deposit used — and potentially contaminated — PPE safely, in a separate space or holding area.
The result: a dental practice that makes patients and staff feel more comfortable.