As most of you know, Governor Pritzker has extended the Shelter in Place order for Illinois through the end of May. While this may be a hardship for many of us, it is what is needed to save lives. I have found myself appreciating my grandparents’ perseverance through the World War I, the 1918 Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, World War II, among other very difficult challenges. I am definitely standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before me. I often feel like I should be doing more. While my primary contribution has been staying home, if you watch the data, that simple act is helping tremendously.
COVID-19 has upended most of our lives. Personally, I worry for family members who are considered high risk due to pre-existing conditions or age. My eldest child, Lisa, is a nurse and has been seeing parents every day. Michelle and David are both dental professionals who have not been able to work. I can only visit my grandchildren and other family members via FaceTime and Zoom, but it has been worth it. We are all healthy and safe. I pray the same holds true for each of you.
During my 32 years of private practice, I have never missed a day of work due to illness. COVID-19 is making me use all those accumulated sick days. I have learned a lot about myself during this time away from parents. Notice I did not say “time off”! We have been working like fiends.
During a period of increasing infection, limiting dental care to only emergency treatment has been wise. Like the HIV/AIDS pandemic did in the 1980’s, the COVID 19 pandemic presents challenges that require we change how we deliver dental care. We need to assume there will not be a quick cure or vaccine and develop plans that allow us to function in a world where COVID-19 exists. Guidance from our professional organizations and the CDC will be slow to come, so we have developed our own science-based solutions. We are confident that using proven infection control protocols already available, we can ensure the safety of both our team and our parents. To our already robust infection control program, we will soon be adding infection control components usually found in hospitals.
While COVID-19 is a new (novel) virus, it is very similar to other respiratory viruses. We continue to study the emerging knowledge of COVID-19, but we also studied the volumes of research available on respiratory viruses and have based our planning on that available science. Dr David, Missy, Elizabeth and I discussed and debated ideas. I spoke with colleagues soliciting opinions. I wanted ideas and criticisms of our planning. Dr. Gary DeWood of Spear Education and formerly the Pankey Institute reviewed our plan and responded, “This is an exceptional statement of process and conclusion followed by action”.
Our plan will allow us to provide excellent quality dental care and safeguard the health and wellbeing of our parents and team. While you may notice many changes when you return, rest assured our level of caring will be the same. I have learned our team has a true passion for providing our parents with great care. They could have checked out and not engaged in the process, but they did not. They helped develop our plans and many completed online Continuing Education. They want to get back into the office. They miss all of you!
The changes we are making to our office are considerably more comprehensive than I have seen recommended for dental offices, but they are based on sound principles and will help protect us all for years to come.
With some states allowing dental offices to reopen in May, it is possible that Illinois dentists may be allowed to reopen prior to June 1st. That would likely be before all the clinic enhancements are completed. If so, we have already incorporated enough enhancements to allow us to safely treat a controlled number of parents.
Stay tuned to our Blog and Social Media for updates.
Stay safe and stay healthy.