I am happy to be able to repeat that our team and their families are doing well. Everyone has stayed healthy. They all send their best wishes and pray you are also doing well.
As I stated in previous blogs, we have been spending the past eight weeks preparing to reopen our practice. You, our patients, have been patient and understanding during this period of “shelter-in-place”. Thank you for your understanding and loyalty.
While our battle with COVID-19 continues, it is apparent that “shelter-in-place” has been working. By staying home, we have helped to reduce the rate of infection and prevent our healthcare system from becoming overburdened. Our public health professionals have increased hospital capacity, worked to improve PPE supply, and developed many other contingencies to help protect us all.
I want to thank our healthcare workers and their families. From the cleaning staff, to the frontline doctors and nurses, they have been overburdened and have been asked to work under very stressful conditions often without adequate equipment. I personally know a few of these heroes. They and their family’s sacrifices will not be forgotten by me. Thank you!
Some of you may have seen news reports that stated dental offices could reopen on Monday May 11th. For the past two months, we have been operating under guidance from the Illinois State Dental Society (ISDS) advising we only treat dental emergencies. After advising Illinois dentists this would last through May, this past weekend, the Illinois State Dental Society changed course and announced that we could begin expanding dental care as of Monday May 11th.
Then, just this past weekend, The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) provided recommendations for dental practices to follow to be able to open safely. The guidance needs clarification, but it clearly shows dental offices looking very different than they did when we closed in March. The good news is we had already anticipated and have begun implementing many of these recommendations.
Our priority is patient and team member safety. Back in March, we began an aggressive approach to planning improvements and procuring the supplies needed. As I detailed in previous blogs, our team has done considerable research on how to best ensure safety. We developed a plan and are currently involved in executing that plan. The current stresses on supply chains have caused some frustrating delays, but we are making progress.
Our plan used the June 1st date as our target. We do plan to open in early June, with our team working in two shifts. We will be expanding hours and slowly ramping up our ability to treat patients. We will begin by focusing on safety and quality and then work on expanding capacity. We will reassess every few weeks and expand our scheduling as we work through our new protocols and complete our facility upgrades.
Some of our plan highlights include:
We have invested in air handling systems to improve air quality.
- Along with remodeling our treatment rooms, we improved our HVAC/ventilation system to improve air quality by increasing fresh air intake and exhausting air directly from each treatment room (often known as negative pressure).
- We have invested in “medical grade” HEPA air filtration with UV-c.
Team Member and Patient Screening
We are following the CDC recommendations for patient screening to help reduce the spread of respiratory infections. All Patients and Team Members are screened daily. We have implemented a multi-step screening process to ensure patients with symptoms of illness are detected prior to presenting to our office.
We have instituted protocols to allow for proper social distancing.
- To protect our patients and team members we have installed protective barriers and all team members will always be wearing appropriate PPE including a face shields or masks.
- We have staggered patient arrivals and departures to avoid patients encountering each other. We will do our best to maintain this staggered scheduling. In addition, we ask that all patients wear provided PPE while in our office until requested by a team member to remove it.
We have attempted to make your time in our office as “Touchless” as possible. You will find touchless dispensers, faucets, toilets, etc. Whatever we could make touchless we did. If it is not touchless, we will offer fresh gloves and/or a sanitized pad, new pen, etc. If you want something you do not see available, please ask.
Our team members will be following a schedule of regular sanitation of “touched” surfaces. Please use the available gloves, towels, and sanitizer as you need.
Our team wants to get back to work as soon as we can. We treat our patients as if you are our family members. We are implementing improvements that currently exceed recommendations to best ensure everyone’s safety. We are humbled by the trust you place in our team and thank you for your patience and loyalty. We look forward to seeing you all very soon.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or comments.
Tony and David Markiewicz