We have always complied with strict OSHA-mandated protocols to maintain a highly sterile environment within our dental offices. These guidelines were created to safeguard against the spread of severely contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and measles, and they are equally effective in managing the spread of influenza and the coronavirus. In response to the current pandemic, we have augmented our safety protocols in across several areas, including:
• Employee Health Screening
• Patient Health Screening
• Office Social Distancing
• Common Area Sterilization
• Personal Protective Equipment
• Treatment Area Protection
The safety of our patients and staff is our highest priority. The added protections described below have been vetted with the CDC, American Dental Association, Arkansas State Dental Association, Arkansas State Dental Board of Examiners, and the Arkansas Department of Health.
Enhanced Safety Protocols:
Employees are regularly screened for COVID-19 risk factors (travel/illness) and those at risk are required to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to work.
All employees have their temperatures monitored daily.
Patients are screened for COVID-19 risk factors and pre-existing conditions when appointments are confirmed and upon arrival and asked to reschedule if risk factors are present. Patient temperatures are taken at check-in as a further screening precaution, and they are required to sign a COVID-19 Treatment Consent Form.
To facilitate patient social distancing in the office, we are only seeing one patient per provider at a time. Patients are asked to remain in their vehicle and call our office and check-in when they arrive in the parking lot. At the appropriate time they will be invited into the building where they will be promptly be screened. After treatment is completed, patients are guided to the check-out desk individually to avoid crowding. Patients are always asked to wear masks except while being treated.
Employees are also practicing social distancing by not congregating in common areas and maintaining a six-foot separation from each other outside the treatment areas.
• Common areas (lobby, restrooms, door handles, break rooms, hallways) are cleaned often with disinfecting wipes and aerosol spray. We encourage patients to take pens with them after using them. If they do not wish to, the pens will be disinfected. All magazines, books, and toys have been removed from lobbies and operatories.
• All employees are utilizing additional layers of personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Provides and clinical staff will doff their scrubs and leave the office in street clothes each day. Shoes are disinfected each evening and left in the office to avoid external contamination.
• Providers and clinical staff wear clinical jackets and gloves for every procedure.
• Facial protection includes a N-95 or Level 3 surgical mask and goggles. A face shield is utilized on procedures that produce aerosols.
• Gloves and surgical masks are disposed after each visit and face shields are cleaned with a disinfecting wipe.
• Sneeze guards have been placed at our front desk area and non-clinical staff will wear masks and gloves when interacting with patients. Credit/Debit cards will be disinfected by a gloved and masked team member and cash will be placed in a separate box to be decontaminated. Non-clinical personnel wear clinical jackets, gloves, surgical masks and face shields when disinfecting the common areas and interacting with patients.
• Patients are given hand sanitizer when they enter the office as part of their screening process and given a pre-rinse with a 1.5% hydrogen peroxide to decrease the viral and bacterial load prior to treatment.
• High volume evacuation devices are utilized for all aerosol producing procedures.
• All paper is left outside the operatory as viruses can remain on surfaces for up to 72 hours.
• Treatment rooms are thoroughly disinfected with Quaternary Ammonium (Sani Cloth AF3) wipes and allowed to remain wet for the recommended three-minute contact time following each patient visit. This will follow a 30-minute settle time when aerosols are produced from a handpiece or ultrasonic scaler.
We appreciate our patients’ cooperation and understanding as we adhere to these strict safety protocols.