Our entire staff (as Dental Healthcare Personnel) received the first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine last week. We will be getting our second booster dose near the end of January. We will continue to take the extra precautions as outlined in the letter below, until all of our patients who want the vaccine have been able to receive it. However, our personnel having the vaccination reduces patient risk in our office even if you have not yet received the vaccine, as there will no longer be a possibility of contracting the virus from us, and we can rest easier, knowing that we cannot get it from you. We are truly thankful that we made it through the past 7 months without anyone getting sick. I believe this confirms that our precautions and extra infection control protocols worked!
As more and more of our at-risk patients receive the vaccine in the coming weeks, we look forward to life getting back to normal and allowing routine dental care of our entire patient base, but specifically those at high-risk who have avoided dental care for the past 10 months.
COVID-19 LETTER MAILED TO ALL ACTIVE PATIENT FAMILIES:
We hope this letter finds you, and your loved ones, well. We miss all of you tremendously and are anxious to return to serving you. We wanted to let you know about our plans to reopen our office for elective dental care in a safe and responsible manner.
Over the past two months, Dr. Niesen has been seeing only emergency patients with urgent needs. Fortunately, our patients have a much higher level of overall dental health due to ongoing preventive care and our proactive, team approach to your dental health. We have had an exceedingly small number of emergencies during this quarantine. This gives us great satisfaction, as it confirms that we have been doing something right all along!
It is now time to begin reopening. However, we are committed to doing so in the safest manner possible. The Maryland Dept. of Health, Maryland State Dental Board and the Center for Disease Control have made certain mandates for a dental practice to resume elective care. We have chosen to go above and beyond these mandates to keep our patients, and ourselves, safe. Our practice has a high percentage of older adults, and we feel a profound ethical obligation to protect them and all our patients during this time. The measures include:
- Pre-screening of all patients one day prior to your appointment. Stephanie will ask you a few simple questions during your confirmation call to assure that you are symptom free and at low risk to attend your appointment.
- For patients over the age of 65, or those with underlying health issues, we recommend that you continue to postpone non-urgent care. This will be a recommendation and not a mandate. If you are over age 65 but feel the need/desire to proceed with elective care, we will be happy to accommodate you and will take your safety very seriously.
- Implementation of a “Virtual Waiting Room”. Those patients arriving at our office by personal vehicle will be asked to remain in their car until your treatment room is ready. Stephanie will call (or text) you to let you know when to enter the office. This will allow you to proceed directly to the treatment room. Those patients arriving by transportation that does not allow waiting (ie: Uber, Asbury Transportation, etc.) will have access to limited waiting in our reception room and/or foyer. Families arriving together (ie: Parent and multiple children) will be given the opportunity to wait together in our enclosed consult room.
- If you are currently wearing a face mask in public, we ask that you continue to do so at your arrival and departure from our office.
- Pre-appointment Screening. A second round of simple questions and body temperature will be taken prior to treatment. An iodine pre-rinse will be offered once you are seated and immediately upon removal of your mask.
- All doors inside our office will be propped open. The front door will have “no touch” features allowing opening and auto-closing without the need to touch the handle.
- Bathroom handles, doorknobs, and light switches will be disinfected between every patient use.
- All staff will be medically evaluated every morning for symptoms and body temperature.
- Dr. Niesen, Sara and Kaley will be wearing full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) including surgical scrubs, surgical gowns, surgical caps, N95 masks and face shields for every procedure. We will don this PPE prior to greeting you in the treatment room.
- We implemented stringent infection control and sterilization protocols in our treatment rooms long before the Covid-19 crisis. These protocols will be continued and enhanced to assure that our treatment rooms will be one of the safest public places you can be.
- In addition to our rigorous infection control protocols, we have invested in high-volume Air Suction/Purification Units that eliminate aerosol spray during dental procedures. These units will be in use the entire time you are seated and during all aerosol-producing procedures.
- Sara will provide all preventive hygiene procedures (dental cleanings) utilizing the Air Suction Units throughout the entire procedure.
- Restorative dental procedures (fillings, crowns etc.) will be done under a protective rubber Dental Dam to eliminate aerosol production. These protocols protect you as the patient and protect us as the staff.
- The HVAC system in our office has been reconfigured to maximize “safe flow” of air within the office. Additional HEPA filters have been placed in the units and a UV light system has been installed which kills viruses, bacteria and mold.
- Front desk contact will be kept to a minimum. Dental insurance billing, invoices, and payments will be done remotely when feasible. Any administrative contact at the front desk will be done with barriers and “social-distancing” guidelines in place.
- Finally, we will be hyper-aware of hand hygiene, glove hygiene, surface contact, and all other aspects of infection control to keep you as safe as possible. We, as dental professionals, have done much of this for decades and have been practicing intensive infection control protocols for our entire careers.
We ask that those of you who are interested in resuming elective care to please call Stephanie to discuss your needs. We will accommodate you as soon as possible. Sadly, it will not be “business as usual” for quite some time and our office hours/days may be fluid for some time. This will give us time to assess the needs of our patients and appropriate appointment flow.
Thank you for your trust! We genuinely appreciate you as part of our practice family, and we really look forward to seeing you in person again soon.
Dr. Niesen, Sara, Kaley and Stephanie