Reopening your practice is just the start. Caring for patients in a way that is safe for you and your staff, is the next big challenge. Here are some recommendations from top Dental Organizations like the ADA, that you can implement to provide care while taking appropriate precautions for your staff and patients.
Patient screening and contact limitation
Where possible, mitigate exposure risk for your team and patients by implementing pre-screening steps before appointments. Depending on the resources and ability of both parties, this can be done via a pre-appointment phone call, through digital survey, through email, or even in a “curbside waiting room.” (Have patients wait in their cars, and notify you upon their arrival. Any relevant paperwork can be done in the car, so there isn’t need to sit in your waiting area for extended periods.)
- Remind patients to limit the people attending their visit to essential parties.
- Emphasize the importance of rescheduling appointments if the patient is showing any signs of illness, or has concerns that they might have been exposed to illness. Do this with empathy and respect. You may want to consider waiving cancellation fees to encourage compliance.
Adjusting your waiting room
Your “waiting room” should be transitioned to a “walkthrough room”, to limit exposure risk for all present. Ensure that seating is limited, and spaced at least two meters apart. If possible, place disinfecting wipes and sanitizing gels prominently, and encourage both your patients and staff to regularly scrub their hands.
- If possible, place a clear screen in front of your staff, to reduce droplet transmission.
- Place tape on the floor to indicate desired spacing from the front desk, and between any patients in line for attendance.
- Remove magazines, handouts, and other materials that might encourage absent-minded perusal.
Disinfect and protect
It’s not just your patients that rely on you to take steps to ensure their safe care- your team also needs this assurance to do their jobs with as little stress and risk as possible. Make sure your staff understands the reasons why your office is taking these precautions, and encourage them to express concerns and make additional suggestions for ways you can continue to improve safety for all.
- Assign a member of your team to regularly sweep through public areas and disinfect any surfaces that might be touched. This includes your “walkthrough area”, bathrooms, staff rooms, and of course, rooms where patients are receiving care. It might be helpful to hang a simple checklist, where each “sweep” is marked off with a completion time.
- Limit staffing to critical levels, and emphasize to staff that if they feel ill, they should stay home. All personnel should be equipped with masks and other PPE as necessary.
- Automate a follow-up text to patients after their appointment, to remind them that if they experience any illness in the two week period after their appointment, to please contact your office to keep your team informed.
Get the ADA’s full toolkit for returning to work, here
See Intiveo’s playbook for patient communication as you get back to business, below.