Happy August! For some of you, the long summer that started in March is almost over. Let’s get those kids back to a schedule and back to some form of school! I feel you! My wife and I are coping with a mixed bag. Our daughter is going back to school in Savannah for hurricane season, and our son deferred so he will be home online for the next year! Ooh, boy, those young adults can be a challenge.
We have had a lot of questions about our infection control program at Big Grins, especially with the Coronavirus lingering on in our community and not to the test-and-trace stage. Luckily our office manager and infection control point person is Kristin Cox. She is a registered nurse who used to work oncology, so she is super knowledgeable on infection control for immune-compromised persons. Kristin, myself and Dr. Rachel have been constantly reading and keeping up with both our government agencies who regulate us and our Department of Health and the CDC. Here is a rundown of our infection control programs; please skip to the section you are interested in!
We require all people coming into the office to have a COVID screening done by text or verbal review with a temperature reading by infrared thermometer. Most families that have been rescheduled due to this screening can find another convenient time 10 days out after symptoms abate, or a COVID test is negative. All children and parents must wear a mask. We still have our virtual waiting room (parents wait in their cars with WiFi access), and we do have limited seating in our lobby. The play areas are all closed with the exception of a giant “iPad” in the clinic area that can be wiped down between uses.
We are still limiting patients in the clinic area, grouping children in the same family together, and socially distancing everyone not related using the wide-open spaces in our clinic and, when necessary, a large plexiglass barrier. One parent of a small child can also come to the clinic.
Traffic to and from the clinic is usually one way with patients exiting our side clinic door, escorted by myself or DA back to a parent in the parking lot. Toy selection is an important part of our visits, they are now handed to a child after they point out what they want to the DA, no touching!
For fillings and other operative procedures, our office has two rooms with closing doors. Each of these rooms has its own ventilation coming up from our plenum flooring due to our Platinum LEED-certified building. This ventilation is separate from the main clinic system, so it is ideal to separate any potential aerosol producing procedures from the rest of the clinic. We rest each of these rooms for 15 minutes in addition to a thorough wipe down so the ventilation can clear the rooms. We didn’t plan on a pandemic, but our design works great! In addition, we have small fans in the room to blow over the area where patient, dental assistant and dentist are working. All stations have high-speed suction. This suction is provided by a remote vacuum and is MUCH better than any suction found in a hospital. A prominent study out of Canada showed how dental offices are much safer than hospital settings due to our longstanding dental infection control procedures as well as this all-important high vacuum suction installation. If we can remove a filling or even, heaven forbid, a baby tooth out of the mouth with our high-speed suction, aerosols don’t stand a chance.
It almost goes without saying that our surface disinfection between every patient and sterilization of dental instruments remains the same at the very highest standards of viral and spore destruction. Every instrument is autoclaved and bagged, our autoclave is checked monthly by an outside lab, and weekly by our internal spore culture assessment. We have not been affected by the wipe disinfectant shortage, in fact, we have large stockpiles of them along with our PPE supplies in great excess to what is currently required by the state.
Just like we think of your kids as our kids, we think of our staff as family. Our prevention measures for staff also exceed health department requirements. All staff wear masks all the time unless they are in a closed room by themselves, chart pulling for example. We social distance, and we take a daily temperature and health screening as we enter the building each morning.
We have invested a great deal on PPE for our staff, head bonnets, face shields, N95 masks and level 3 masks as well as smocks and gloves. Glove shortages and needle shortages were anticipated by our vendors, so we are well stocked on all supplies.
As before the pandemic, we have on-site laundry, but we are now laundering reusable PPE twice daily and the rest is disposable. For operative procedures, some of us double mask to preserve our N95 masks for their recommended use time, and some of us wear face shields; some personal preference is allowed if you can believe it! Bonnets and shoe coverings are no longer required, but we have them as employees desire or the rules change again.
Our new sick leave policy for employees has been extended to six paid days for non-COVID illness and up to 80 hours to stay home for COVID suspected illness or a positive test. We have had two false alarms with staff so far, two negative tests that is, but we prepared by hiring another DA, Gabby, when Dr. Rachel came on. We are now actually overstaffed if someone should have to self-quarantine, let’s hope no one never does!
- We ask for your continued patience with our screenings, masks, temperature taking and virtual waiting rooms.
- We ask you to be honest with us about your symptoms and travel risks.
- We put your child’s health above all else with constant supervision and disinfection following their movements. We appreciate your trust in us as you wait in your car, a car-cation!
- We continue to strive for on-time service and limited patients in the clinic. This is a two-way goal, so give us a call if you are running late and we will do the same.
For more science from our COVID file or an exhaustive source of real-time information and official notices, Please call Kristin at 970-407-1020. Mask on, carry on!
We understand kids’ goals are different. We will ALWAYS have a positive, upbeat attitude when we meet your kids at the front door! Panic mode is for the media and transportation to and from school! We want to be part of your solution, never part of your problems!