April 29, 2020
Getting Back to Your Dental Practice After the COVID-19 Shutdown
Even if your state isn’t one that has begun to loosen its grip on stay-at-home orders, looming questions remain. When can you return to work at your dental practice, and what will that look like? While we can’t answer those questions for you, we can offer some insight into how to keep your eyes on the proverbial prize. Here are some bullet points to add to your reopening to-do list.
While dentists and hygienists will be able to work with masks on, the microorganisms spread by aerosols from patients will still put staff at risk. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends appropriate engineering and administrative controls, as well as personal protective equipment for employees. This includes high-efficiency air filters and negative pressure ventilation in settings that produce aerosols.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding aerosol-producing procedures whenever possible. OSHA recommends dental workers, who are considered “very high exposure risk,” to wear level-three surgical masks with a face shield when treating patients. For any procedure that generates aerosols, an N95 respirator should be used and fit-tested for optimal filtering.
While business ramps back up, employees may choose to alternate workdays to reduce the number of employees in a facility at any given time. Similarly, rather than having patients wait in the waiting room to be seen, consider having them go directly into an operatory to allow for continued social distancing.
Before the practice even reopens, the practice owner may put staff at ease by providing training on COVID-19 risk factors and important protective behaviors. This may also mean communicating to them the steps that will be put in place in the office for the best interest of both the staff and patients to both the staff and patients.
Contact the experts at Professional Transition Strategies to learn more about how the current pandemic can impact your dental practice going forward and what steps to take now.