Updated: May 1, 2020
Governor Brian Kemp has given the go-ahead to opened many businesses in Georgia. Our State of Emergency expires on April 30, 2020. Our office has decided to open fully on May 4, 2020. Yesterday we completed a “soft opening” with limited staff. Here is what a day in dental hygiene will look like for many of you who choose to return to post-Covid Dentistry.
Sunday: A few of us decided we should go into the office and clean EVERYTHING. From waterlines to scrubbing toilets, we disinfected everything we could think of or see. We stocked our rooms, took a tally of items needing to be ordered, and critiqued our charts for Monday.
I arrived at work at 7:25 am with a shit ton of stuff (peroxyl, lunch, loupes, change of clothes, biohazard shoe box, etc.). The system is down so I can’t clock in. I removed all of the electric toothbrush models and educational materials from the counters and place them in the drawers, then wiped down the surfaces. When I went to turn my unit on there was water spewing out of the top of the bottle. Great! I took a few minutes to troubleshoot then I cleaned up the mess, notified my doctor, then moved to another op.
PPE was distributed. Paper gowns, one KN95 mask, and one face shield. I decided I would wear a low-level surgical mask over the KN95 to preserve the mask due to the short supply of them.
Patients will be waiting in their cars. They are to call the front desk when they arrive. Once the op is ready, the patient is told to approach the front door. A staff member meets them outside. Patients are screened with questions (see the link for the ADA toolkit) and their temperature is taken with a no-touch thermometer. Our patients are asked to use hand sanitizer and wear a mask before entering the building. Staff noted the temperature and seated them in the operatory. By this time you are wrapped up tight in PPE, except gloves. I like to wash my hands or hand sanitize where the patient can see me. The patient is asked to swish with a hydrogen peroxide pre-procedural rinse (Peroxyl) as recommended by the CDC.
Y'all….It’s hot! I could feel the sweat beading up under my surgical cap. I survived. I sighed, in a little relief that the first hygiene patient is done. I do recommend informing your patients of the type of service alterations such as no cavitron or piezo. I like to tell them we are following CDC and ADA Covid guidelines. I only had one patient complain about not using the cavitron yesterday. I hand scaled and lightly polished with suction. Getting the patients in and out is ideal to limit the possible exposure. There is no longer any idling at check out. The next appointments are to be scheduled in the treatment room before dismissal.
I am and have been very anxious about returning back to dentistry so soon without dependable, rapid antibody testing widely available as well as proper mandates from the CDC regarding aerosol management. The most difficult thing I encountered yesterday was breathing with the double mask. I had to stop twice during the day to catch my breath. I guess time will tell if it was anxiety rearing its ugly head or the masks themselves.
As with all new policies, they will require tweaking. Some recommended modifications are; to extend the appointment times to allow for more time to screen the patients and disinfect the room, dropping the AC temperature, and adding a PPE surcharge to help cover the extra expenses of new PPE.
Please feel free to share your experiences when you have them.
Good luck and stay safe!!
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