Covid-19 has impacted every global industry, and dental practices are no exception. If you work, manage or own a dental practice, this is obvious. The nature of dental work involves high-contact personal interaction, which puts both you and your patients at higher risk of contagion if you do not implement and follow recommended hygienic protocols. In Massachusetts, Phase 2 of the Covid-19 reopening plan gives the green light for dentists to offer non-emergent services, like routine cleanings. Although we’re just entering the beginning of the “new normal”, is your practice prepared to follow the recommended guidelines? Here’s just a few ideas you can start at your dental practice today to succeed in the re-opening stages.
Due to the up close, personal nature of dentistry work, most dental practices opted to shut their doors or limit services extensively during the state and nationwide stay-at-home orders. According to the ADA, 79% of dentists closed except for emergency work, and 17% shut their doors entirely. But the fact is that revenue loss from such a drastic decrease in patient visits is devastating for many dental practices, despite the desire to keep everyone safe.
As we move into the “new normal”, work on streamlining your administrative process. You may already do most or all of these things, but here are a few suggestions to implement from an administrative standpoint:
- Schedule appointments with enough time in between to facilitate proper cleaning and disinfecting.
- Limit the number of patients and staff in the practice at one time.
- If possible, consider staggering or dividing the staff into shifts to avoid having to shut the office down if someone gets sick.
- Prioritize higher risk patients with a specified window of time after you open each day.
- Call ahead to verify information with the patient beforehand and advise them on what to do if they feel sick before or after their visit.
In terms of preparing your physical dental practice for higher patient traffic, the CDC has put together a detailed list of considerations specific to dental offices. Many of these guidelines are most likely very familiar to you. However, here are some basic recommendations when planning to re-open — or stay open:
- Ensure that every staff member has access to personal protective equipment (PPE) which may include face masks, shields, gloves, and protective clothing.
- Advise all staff and patients to wear a mask when not undergoing dental work.
- Mark floors, walls or other visible areas to note proper social distance – ie. a floor marker every 6 feet.
- Place hand sanitizer visibly around the office and implement strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols in between patients.
The “new normal” will be different in your dental practice than it was before, but you don’t need to feel overwhelmed. Want further guidance in how to ensure success in a post-Covid 19 environment? Schedule your consultation with Dr. Coughlin today.