Welcome Back Friends!
We are happy to announce the resumption of dental services as usual, (mostly) starting Monday June 1st 2020.
This specifically means that we will be able to treat all patients for all preventative and restorative procedures like before the mandated closure of dental offices due to the COVID-19 outbreak and governmental response.
I would like to take a moment to discuss the things we have always done in my dental office to ensure the health and safety of all people we treat as well as discuss some new things you will notice upon your next visit.
The dental community has led the way in ensuring a safe work environment in a health care setting. Some people may recall when A.I.D.S. first came to our world. This triggered dramatic changes in dental offices during the late 1980’s. Many dentists did not wear gloves or masks at that time. Official formation and implementation of what is now called "Universal Precautions" to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the dental office was the result.
"Universal Precautions" essentially means that every effort is made to keep everybody’s bacteria and viruses to themselves. This means that patients will be protected from dentists and their employees as well as other patients seen in the office. The reverse is true also. The doctor and employees are protected from potential infections originating from patients. The transmission of infectious organisms from one person to another unknowingly, is called "Cross Contamination".
To prevent "Cross Contamination" in the dental office, we must consider everyone to be carriers of potentially pathogenic organisms. The most common are cold and flu viruses, multitudes of various bacteria including strep class of bacteria, herpes viruses, hepatitis A-Z (actually, A, B, and C), and the A.I.D.S virus among others. You get the picture. There is a lot out there to be avoided.
The way we avoid "Cross Contamination" is by stringently following these "Universal Precautions".
This is what is done;
- All instruments that are used during a procedure are sterilized in a device called an autoclave. An autoclave is a fancy pressure cooker that utilizes heat and pressure to destroy/kill all known organisms. This is called sterilization.
- For instruments that can not withstand the heat of an autoclave, specifically some plastic instruments, we use a chemical sterilant. This is called cold sterilization. All sterilized instruments are meticulously wrapped and sealed to ensure they remain sterile until opened for use. Our autoclave is tested weekly to ensure it is functioning properly by an independent monitoring laboratory.
- Other items such as suction tips, bibs, paper tray covers, plastic cups, gloves, gauze, cotton rolls, q-tips, etc are onetime use items and are disposed of.
- The items that can not fit in an autoclave are sprayed and then wiped down with a powerful disinfectant designed to be applied to all surfaces that the doctor, employee, or patient may have come into contact with. These surfaces include but are not limited to, light handles, various chair and machinery buttons, computer keyboards/mouse, dental chair fabric, work tray surfaces, x-ray units, shelving, countertops, etc. These procedures are performed before each patient is seated in each operatory.
- The heating and air conditioning system is equipped with an electronic air filter that captures and incinerates air borne particles that it comes into contact with.
- We have Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A.) required annual staff training meetings where we review our infection control procedures and safety protocols.
This is what we have always done.
The following is what we are now adding to our safety protocol. Much was done voluntarily by me and some is mandated by State Government in order to re-open. I will point out which as I discuss them.
- Government required temperature checks of all patients and employees entering the office. I originally was going to have patients answer the simple question "are you sick with cold or flu like symptoms?" That is not enough to comply with the mandate so I have hired another employee who will fill out a form upon your arrival and take your temperature with a touch less "Temporal" thermometer. You will need to answer the questions about if you are sick and sign it. You will be given a pen to keep and use for any further needs during your visit.
- Face coverings are required for patients upon entering. We will have masks available if you do not have one. I realize this is a touchy topic. I am required to "enforce" this government mandate with the possibility of losing of my license to practice dentistry and feed my family if I do not enforce it. Please do not let this turn into a devisive issue by refusing to wear a face covering, except while being treated. I really, really appreciate your compliance with this Government mandate.
- Coffee is no longer available- Government
- Chairs in the waiting area spaced six feet apart. Me and Government
- Six feet social distancing marks on the carpeting throughout the office- Government
- No magazine rack- Government
- You will notice barrier glass installed around the front office. I think it looks good and hope you do too. Me and Government
- Despite having sophisticated air filtration system hooked up to our central heating and air conditioning unit, I have added additional units in each treatment rooms. They have multiple ways of filtering the air.
a. Equipped with a HEPA filter to capture air borne particulates.
b. Ionizer to electronically charge particles so they do not suspend in the air.
c. Ozonator that purifies and refreshes the air and removes odors.
d. UV Light to kill air borne particles it encounters. Each unit is able to purify 2500 sq ft of space. I have 6 units, one in each treatment room and one in the waiting area. The treatment rooms are about 120 sq ft so these are recycling the air in each room continuously.
- Clinical staff members will be required to wear face shields in addition to 2 layers of masks so you will notice a difference as well. Me and Government
- Hand Sanitizer stations available at the entrance and the check out for your optional use. Me and Government
The purpose of all this is to further minimize possibility of "Cross Contamination" and better ensure your safety and my staff’s safety. If you are not yet comfortable with returning to the dental office, then please cancel your appointment immediately. We have a three month back log of patients with needs and unfortunately, we will not be able to waive broken appointment fees that are incurred when less than 24 hours’ notice is given. Fees for sickness or another emergencies will be waived.
I look forward to when I can remove the 6 foot "x"s from the floor, rearrange the seating in the waiting area to a more friendly configuration, remove the temperature taking station and restore coffee and magazines. Other items will remain.
You may have heard my radio messages. I said with a little common sense and patience, we will all get through this.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and God Bless America!!
Yours in Good Health,
William R Gaston D.D.S. and the Fountain View Team