COVID Safety Updates for Re-opening
We hope that you and your loved ones have remained safe and healthy during the past few months. Our community has been through a lot recently, and all of us are looking forward to resuming our normal habits and routines. While many things have changed, one thing has remained the same: our commitment to your safety. Infection control has always been a top priority for our practice which you most likely have seen during your visits to our office. Our infection control processes are created to make certain that when you receive care with us, it’s both safe and comfortable. The following will provide you with modifications we have made to our practice to ensure your continued safety in response to the COVID-19 virus. We understand this is a lengthy document, but we wanted to make sure everyone is well informed.
Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MN Board of Dentistry and MN Department of Health at our state level and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at the national level. We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up to date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do this to make sure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agencies’ recommendations. Our policies will be updated as the information provided by these agencies changes. These changes are being implemented to help protect our patients and staff from COVID-19 transmission. We want you to know that while on the surface it will seem as if much has changed, many of our practices for infection control have remained the same and continue to comply.
Key points are listed below:
- Upon your arrival to the office, we will STILL be greeting you with a smile, it will just be under our masks! The handshakes or hugs we might have exchanged in the past will be resisted due to social distancing measures.
- ALL office personnel will be screened every morning upon their arrival to the office with a questionnaire and by taking their temperature, the results of which will be logged. This process will be repeated at the end of the workday as well.
- ALL office personnel will be wearing face masks at all times throughout the entire office.
- We will be minimizing the number of patients in the office at any one time.
- We will be keeping a visitor logbook of all people that enter the office with dates and times.
- Patients with increased susceptibly (i.e. elderly and/or immunocompromised patients) will be scheduled first thing in the morning to help minimize any risk of having an increased number of people populating the office throughout the day. If you wish to be scheduled in this time slot and do not fit into the ‘increased susceptibility’ category, please let us know and we would be happy to accommodate you.
- We will only be allowing “the patient” in the treatment room (any exception to this will be made on a case by case basis with safety as the priority).
- Clinic staff will be using use N95 APR’s (air-purifying respirators) during aerosol generating procedures. Either N95 or KN95 respirators have been recommended by the CDC during the Covid 19 crisis. Given all the articles about the fake or inadequate KN95 masks all over social media… we want you to know, that we are ONLY using the N95 masks: the only ones that are specifically approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
- Due to the shortage of appropriate APR’s at the time of this writing, the N95 masks will be covered with a Level 3 mask (worn on the outside to prevent external fluid and aerosol contamination, and disposed of after every patient.) The N95 masks will be disinfected at the end of the day using a method currently used at the Mayo Clinic.
- Additional attire to be worn by clinical personnel include: surgical gowns, surgical caps, and face shields. Our outer garment and face/head coverings will be changed after each and every patient to ensure no cross-contamination occurs.
- HVE (high volume evacuation) methods will be used in all aerosol generating procedures. In addition, each treatment room will be supplied with a medical grade air filtration system which features H13 HEPA filtration technology for superior airborne particle removal. Only H13 HEPA filtration or better removes 99.9% of particles down to 0.1 microns. (Just an FYI... COVID-19 average particle size is 0.125). Our units are equipped to clean the air in each operatory every 15 minutes.
Additional Things to Know Before Your Appointment:
- Our office will communicate with you beforehand to ask screening questions. This will happen 2-3 days prior to your appointment and then again 1 day before your appointment. You will be asked those same questions again when you are in the office.
- We will soon have a way for you to update any changes to your contact information, insurance information, and, most importantly, update your medical history ONLINE or via your cell phone, before you come in! This reduces the time you need to spend in our office and increases safety.
- In order to limit sitting / waiting in our reception area, where it is difficult to socially isolate, we ask that you call us from your car when you have arrived at the office.
- If possible, we ask that you come to your appointment alone (unless you need assistance or you are a minor). The purpose of this is to limit the number of bodies in the office at any one time.
- When you arrive at the office, please be courteous of other patients that may be in the front desk area. If you notice another patient at the front desk, we ask that you wait outside the office for the other patient to leave before entering. Please keep 6 feet of social distance between yourself and team members or other patients.
- Please wear a mask / face covering to your appointment. If you do not have a mask / face covering, one will be provided for you upon arrival at the office.
- We have hand sanitizer in the area just outside our front door, and also available in the reception area that we will ask you to use immediately upon entering upon entering the office (prior to approaching the front desk).
- Your temperature will be taken at the front desk. If it is above 100.4 degrees, we will ask return to your car or the lobby for 10 minutes. When you return to the office, your temperature will again be taken. If it is still above 100.4 degrees, we will reschedule your appointment and recommend that you contact your physician for guidance.
- You will be asked to do a preprocedural mouth rinse to decrease viral load. This is something we have been doing for over 15 years, and is now recommended by the American Dental Association.
Our office has historically been a small, personal practice focused on high quality care. The office is rarely full of patients with doctors and staff rushing between rooms. Because of this, you will probably notice very little difference in your appointments.
Our office is perfectly positioned to provide safe care for you and your family. If you hear of friends who are concerned about the safety and comfort of their future dental care, please let them know about our office. We might be an ideal spot for them as well.
With that, please reach out to us if you have any questions that have not been answered. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Dr. Nancy Holm
And Lea, Katie, Lindsay, Cassie, Tari, and Leslie