To Our Valued Patients,
As healthcare providers, nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our patients and staff. As you are no doubt aware, a new virus has begun to spread in our community causing COVID-19, an infection that has been fatal to a small percentage of those infected. We will not attempt to interpret the large amount of information out there about the virus – though we do encourage you to trust official sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and coronavirus.gov, and rely on them as a primary source of information. We would like to take this opportunity to inform you about the steps we take every day to protect our patients from infection, additional steps we’re taking due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and how we recommend you respond as it regards your scheduled treatment in our office.
Our office practices Standard Precautions and Universal Precautions, as recommended by the CDC, in all our dental treatment environments. These precautions were developed in the 1980’s in response to the HIV epidemic. They have since evolved to include protections against other infectious agents, especially those that pose a higher risk of transmission, including respiratory diseases like Tuberculosis. The gist of these guidelines is that we treat every patient as if they have an undiagnosed, contagious disease. By acting in this manner, we are always taking steps to protect our patients and ourselves from accidental disease transmission. Many of these precautions you are used to seeing in the office, while others are behind the scenes. For every patient, we clean our hands; wear a brand new pair of nitrile gloves, and a new ASTM level 3 masks. Any instrument that comes into contact with a patient is either single use (and disposed of after each patient), or sterilized under heat and pressure. Our sterilization machines are tested weekly to ensure they can even kill bacterial spores (think anthrax). Anything that is not used in a procedure but may come into contact with patients in a treatment setting are either covered with a water-tight barrier (e.g. x-ray sensors and head rests) or cleaned with a hospital level disinfectant. These Standard and Universal Precautions have been proven in study after study to virtually eliminate the risk of infection transmission from dental treatment.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our office has taken additional steps to protect our patients and staff. We have reviewed the Standard and Universal Precautions with all staff members to ensure they’re followed. We’ve made hand sanitizer available in non-treatment rooms. We use the same hospital level disinfectant that we use in the dental treatment setting, on other contact surfaces (counter tops, door knobs, etc.), and standard disinfectants (Clorox wipes) on other surfaces (pens, waiting room chairs, etc.). We have also instructed the staff to limit direct contact with each other and patients (no more handshakes, etc.) We have also instructed any staff who becomes sick, or comes into contact with a sick person, to stay home from work. We are taking these extra steps to do our part to help slow this disease’s transmission in our community.
Regarding receiving care in our office, if you’re sick, or have been in contact with someone who contracts COVID-19, please reschedule your appointment (and provide as much notice as possible). If you’re sick and have a dental emergency, please contact our office and we will ensure you’re seen in the appropriate environment that limits risk of transmission. If you’re healthy, and have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19, at this point you’re considered to have low risk of contracting the disease, and we would welcome you to keep your regularly scheduled appointments. We take our responsibility to care for our patient’s whole health seriously. We hope that this message reassures you that it is safe to receive any care you may need in our office. If you have questions about the steps outlined in this message, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or email.
Dr. Sue James and Team