Governor DeWine announced that dentist offices may start to reopen on May 1, 2020, as long as they have strict precautions in place to ensure their employees’ safety. In addition to wearing face masks, staggering start times and adjusting lunch breaks as some of the necessary precautions, there are some specific considerations that dental owners should keep in mind as they start seeing patients again:
- Make sure you have plenty of personal protective equipment (PPE) for your staff. In a recent message from the ODA President, Sharon Parsons, DDS, the ODA is working with suppliers to do what they can to make PPE available to members. Check out her message to also learn about their group purchasing organization (GPO) called Ohio DDS that allows members to get discounts on their dental supplies, equipment, and special needs.
- Take the time to evaluate your waiting area. Does it allow for patients to be six feet away from each other? If not, can you make changes so it does? If so, make those changes now. If not, another options is making your patients wait in their cars until they can be seen. Also, remind patients to come alone so there are fewer people in the office.
- Consider temporarily changing your hours so you can see more patients and adjust the start times of some of your employees. Are you usually off Wednesdays or Friday afternoons? If so, it might be more efficient to be open during those times as you will be able to spread out your appointments so there are not as many patients in your office at one time. Think about adding evening and weekend hours. Right now your patients may not feel comfortable taking time off work to go to the dentist, having evening and weekend hours could go a long way. Also, consider having special hours for higher-risk patients.
- Ensure your dental practice is clean and sanitized throughout the day. This includes multiple cleanings during the day for commonly touched areas like door handles, light switches, pens, clipboards, etc.
- When scheduling and leaving appointment reminders, let your patients know the steps that are being taken to keep them safe while they are at your dental office. This will help them feel more comfortable before they even walk in the door.
- Continue to stay up-to-date with the resources available to you through the American Dental Association and the Ohio Dental Association.
As you slowly start to reopen your dental practice, know that the team at PMA Practice Transitions is here to help make the process smoother. COVID-19 has turned your practice upside down, our team will help you overcome these unique challenges to get to the other side.