Smile Solutions Dental Centre Reopen
It is with great joy that we are able to announce the reopening of Smile Solutions Dental Centre, as of May 19, 2020. As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in adjustments to all of our lives, and resumption of dental services is no different. In the time that we have been closed we have been working diligently on protocols to keep our patients as safe as possible for when we would reopen.
Recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer (Dr. Bonnie Henry), the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia, and WorkSafeBC were released on Friday, May 15 th . We were very gratified to see that the protocols we had developed ourselves were in complete compliance with their recommendations, and in some cases exceeded the guidelines provided.
We have already begun to see patients for treatment in our clinic. However, in order to maximize patient and team member safety, we are returning to work gradually, making sure we can test our systems, and train our team in correct execution of all of our safety protocols as they return from their long break. For this reason, it will be some time yet before we are able to resume work at our regular
capacity. This means that there may still be some time to wait before we are able to see every patient who wants to attend. There are numerous patients who have experienced emergency problems over the last two months who require urgent care, and so for now we will be focussing on these appointments first. Don’t worry! Whatever your concern may be, please feel free to call and we will work with you to address it.
When you come back to our office, it will not be business as usual for now. You will notice many changes to our procedures, and these may seem cumbersome. Please recognize that these changes are designed to keep you and our team as safe as possible, and have been developed using the best available evidence-based research. These procedures may change further as we learn more about what is effective and what isn’t at controlling the spread of COVID-19. We all look forward to a day when these precautions are no longer necessary. For now, please help us by cooperating with us to the best of your ability.
- When scheduling an appointment, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire regarding your COVID – 19 status. We will also be asking the same questions again upon your arrival to the practice. If there is any indication that you are at increased risk of having COVID-19, we will not be able to admit you to the clinic and will instead reschedule the appointment. It is critical to the safety of everyone working at or attending our practice that you answer this honestly and to the best of your ability. An example questionnaire has been developed by the Ministry of Health and is available at: https://bc.thrive.health/covid19/en.
- When you are admitted into the clinic, you will be given a mask to wear and brought to the room where you will receive treatment. There you will be asked to wash your hands thoroughly and then rinse your mouth with a medicinal rinse before reclining for treatment.
- If you are attending the clinic for a cleaning appointment, you will likely not see the dentist the same day. The hygienist may take x-rays and other records, and the dentist will review them from another room. If you have a concern that requires further testing or treatment, you will be scheduled another appointment to see the dentist. By following this procedure we greatly reduce the number of people each team member has contact with, and the number of potential opportunities for cross contamination.
- While the risk of acquiring COVID-19 in the community is currently very low, some dental procedures which produce an aerosol place the dental team at high risk if a patient is an asymptomatic carrier, or has mild symptoms and is unaware that they have COVID-19. For
this reason we are limiting these procedures as much as possible. As an example, a hygienist will be performing your cleaning with hand-scaling instruments rather than the ultrasonic device.
- You are asked to attend your appointment alone. Anyone attending with you will be asked to wait outside in the car or outside the building. In cases where we may be caring for a child too young to be treated alone, one parent may be permitted in the clinic with them; in the case of a person requiring medical assistance, a care aid may accompany them. There are no other exceptions.
- The washroom in the clinic is no longer available for patient use in order to prevent potential contamination between patients. Please make sure you come to your appointment prepared to receive treatment without the need for interruption. In emergency situations, there is a washroom in the hallway just outside the practice that can be used by patients that is not maintained by our clinic.
Other Steps We Are Taking to Keep You and Our Team Safe:
- Personalized arrival procedures to reduce surface contact and eliminate any patient to patient interactions.
- Social distancing protocols throughout the clinic, even among dental team members.
- Removal of all magazines, toys, and other items that can potentially carry infection from both our treatment areas and waiting rooms.
- Masks worn by all persons in the clinic at all times (including team members in reception areas and patients entering and exiting the clinic).
- Plexiglass barriers at the reception area.
- Regular hand sanitizing procedures for dental team members and patients above and beyond what is normally required for standard dental infection control procedures.
- Screening of all dental team members every morning before work with the results logged to make sure no one comes to work sick.
- Additional equipment, such as Surgically Clean Air filtration units, to help remove aerosols from treatment rooms during and between procedures.
- Longer appointment times in order to facilitate attention to enhanced infection control procedures.
- Disinfection of all outside mail and packages that enter the office.
- New personal protective equipment for our workers, such as high-filtration masks, face shields, and gowns.
- Special training days at our clinic to ensure all team members are knowledgeable and consistently delivering our enhanced protection procedures.
- Monitoring of the latest recommendations from professional organizations and health authorities regarding infection control best practices.
We are incredibly happy to be able to return to work and begin serving our patients again. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Dr. Nathan B. Kennedy