REOPENING PROTOCOL AND ADVICE FOR PATIENTS COMING FOR DENTAL TREATMENT
As we look forward to re-opening our dental practice, many changes will have to be implemented to allow for safe, careful and sustainable procedures to ensure the safety of patients and staff alike, and to promote a healthy attitude towards minimising contact to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Many of you will find this strange and perhaps extreme, but until a vaccine is developed and everyone inoculated, this will be the new norm. Measures will be put in place and below, I have outlined the instructions for patients to follow.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW MEASURES TO REDUCE THE RISK OF COVID-19 TRANSMISSION AND INFECTION
As a dental surgery, we routinely maintain an extremely high standard of cleanliness and our usual disinfection and cross contamination procedures are stringently enforced. Our current cross contamination protocols have so far protected patients and staff alike from all previously known pathogens. There is no evidence of transmission of Covid-19 between dentists and their staff and patients.
We have looked at international Covid-19 protocols and understand the measure that have been implemented elsewhere. The new measures that we have introduced within this policy will, in our opinion, minimise risk to patients and staff.
All staff, clinical and non-clinical will also comply by the new protocols to reduce the risk of cross infections between staff and patients.
PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT (PPE)
As you may have heard in the news, PPE is in short supply and the prices have skyrocketed. It is essential that staff wear the correct protection. The cost of this per patient will be in excess of £25 / appointment involving aerosol generating pocedure. This is unfortunately a fee that, at present, we have to pass down to our patients and we will require payment before booking any appointments. This cost will be used exclusively for purchasing the new PPE required. We hope that with time, the costs will diminish and then the practice will absorb the costs. We hope that patients will understand this and be accepting of this change. This cost will be in addition to the cost of treatment.
Upon re-opening, the advice by Public Health England is that we have to prioritise patients that require urgent dental care, and whilst I know that every patient considers that their situation is urgent, as a practice, we have to abide by the guidelines and treat accordingly. We will, in time, see everyone, and again we ask for your patience and understanding.
HIGH RISK GROUPS
We recommend that patients in the high-risk groups for developing complications from coronavirus delay non-essential dental treatment for as long as possible until the trend of the pandemic becomes clear. If you are in a high- risk group and you do require treatment, we will schedule your appointment at the beginning of the day. To find out whether you are in a high or very high-risk group, please see the link here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/.
Following any procedures that generates aerosol i.e. the use of a handpiece that spreads droplets into the air, the staff will have to follow very strict cleaning and disinfection procedures which means that we cannot see as many patients in a day as we did in the past. We have introduced a 30-minute break between each patient to allow for additional decontamination procedures to be followed and to adequately prepare for the next patient.
Door handles will be regularly cleaned and disinfected in addition to our usual cleaning procedures.
INTERACTION BETWEEN STAFF AND PATIENTS
Due to the new PPE that clinical staff need to wear, it is not possible to carry out extensive treatments to start as the masks which are very close fitting and uncomfortable for staff to wear requires that they rest for 10 minutes every hour.
We ask our patients to be understanding of this and to keep conversations with the dentists to an absolute minimum. We will triage all patients via telephone or email before we book any appointments and they will have the opportunity to give as much information as possible which will be passed on to the dentists. Please do not repeat this information as it takes away from the time that can be spent carrying out essential treatment.
Appointments will be limited and in short supply and if you are booked, we will ask you to attend as failure to do will prevent another patient who needs urgent care from attending. Elective treatment may need to be deferred or reassessed and you may not receive the treatment that you were expecting, or you may need to attend again. X-rays will not always be carried out.
COVID-19 AND SAFETY
As new scientific evidence of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic is studied and evaluated, there undoubtedly be new recommendations and measures that will need to be implemented.
I believe that everybody appreciates that we are in difficult and unprecedented times and the very core of life as we knew it has changed. We ask that you please be understanding of this as our intention is to ensure safe and secure treatment for all our patients in line with the guidelines that have been issued to us. We will be providing dental care to all our patients in the safest possible environment for everyone’s protection. We thank you in advance.
Phase 1 - We will re-open on Thursday 11th June and will be working on one chair with one dentist, two nurses and two office staff. We will see patients with urgent dental problems and/ or those who treatment was interrupted due to lock down that is now endangering their oral health. There will be no Saturday appointments available for the foreseeable future.
Phase 2 – as lockdown eases and restrictions are lifted, we will work on both chairs with all clinical and office staff. Routine treatments, annual check-ups, hygiene treatment, Invisalign and eventually implant surgery will recommence. New patient consultations will be reintroduced.
NEW MEASURES TO FOLLOW
- Patients can only visit the surgery after prior telephone booking and only if offered an appointment
- There is no drop-in service available
- A COVID-19 risk assessment (triage) will be carried out via a staff member from the practice prior to booking an appointment and based on the risk assessment, appointments will be offered accordingly
- Patients will need to pay £25 per clinician per appointment to cover the cost of the special PPE equipment our dentists and nurses must wear in order to be able to carry out treatment. This is payable in advance and is non-refundable.
- Patients must arrive alone (where possible) and on time and to wear a mask
- There may be occasions where patients may need to wait outside of the surgery (on the street or in their vehicles) until called before they can enter the practice in order to ensure safety measures and social distancing.
- Patients should arrive 5 minutes before the appointment is due.
- Please do not arrive late.
- Upon arrival, a member of staff will check the patient’s body temperature with a non-contact thermometer. If the temperature is above 37.8 C degree, you will be unable to enter the practice and will be asked to self-isolate as per the current Government guidelines.
- Patients MUST wash their hands immediately after entry for 30 seconds and use the hand sanitiser provided as needed. Instructions will be provided.
- Please avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose, especially after treatment
- In the waiting area, a 2-meter distance must be observed between patients if more than one patient is on site
- Only specified seating can be used
- Patients must place all items i.e. coat, handbag etc into plastic box, including mobile phones which must not be used within the dental practice or preferably leave in their vehicles. The practice accepts no liability for belongings left at reception.
- If patients wish to wash their teeth before being seen, please do so at home as this facility will not be available within the practice.
- No tea, coffee etc will be provided. Water only, if requested, but preferred if patients bring their own
- Patients should bring their own pens for signing forms, if needed though we are planning to introduce as much digital data as possible.
- Patients should try to avoid talking to the dentist and nurse to allow for maximum use of time for treatment
- X-rays may not always be mandatory
- After treatment, patients should remain in the dental chair until advised to leave the room
- Patients stand behind the protective screen at reception within designated area and make payment
- No cash payments can be accepted. Card only payments or preferred online payment before arrival.
- There will be no face-to-face meetings with office staff and all communication should take place either by email or telephone
Please view this short video which is similar to the new protocols that will be implemented by our practice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pLA_Afef7A&feature=youtu.be
We thank you all for your co-operation and wish that you all stay safe!
The Management – London Dental Implant
10th November 2020