On Tuesday, March 17, 2020 (St. Patrick’s Day) we closed our doors in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic. At the time we hoped we didn’t have to stay closed for more than a couple of weeks. As we all know, weeks turned to months and we finally reopened on May 18, 2020 (the day after Syttende Mai or Norwegian Constitution Day).
Dr. Amble and the management team spent the weeks prior to reopening developing new facility operating plans (including PPE and respirator plans), researching and purchasing new safety equipment, and designing new office protocols. As a team we all spent the week before reopening talking, training, and fine tuning our changes.
When we opened, the first two weeks were doctor-only appointments for urgent care follow-ups and treatment. The doctors and their assistants had extra time between each appointment for all the added disinfectant tasks and PPE changes. It went amazingly well. Based on that experience, we added hygiene back into our schedule. The hygiene schedule was augmented with an additional ½ hour between patients for UVC light sterilization of the room after each patient and additional wipe-downs.
With hygiene and doctor visits back on, our new one-way traffic protocol was tested and found to work very well. Patients call or text us when they arrive, we let them know when we are ready to have them come in and be seated, everything is done in their treatment room, and then they leave via the back door. We have on-line forms set up on our website and treatment plans can be sent very easily with email addresses and texting options. E-statement and on-line bill pay are also an option.
For the staff, the new N95 face masks (with disposable ASTM level 1 or 2 masks over them) are a challenge to wear for an entire day because of how tight they fit and how much they filter. In addition, the added gowns, face shields, and hair coverings can be hot and claustrophobic. However, feedback from our staff and the patients we have seen so far has been very positive regarding their feelings of safety and well-being during dental visits and work.
The bottom line is that we are thrilled to be back at work providing dental care for our patients and friends. We’re confident that we are working safely and providing the best and safest level of care possible during this extraordinary time. We’re grateful for the safety of our staff, their families, and our patients and very happy to be back at your service again.