Since the attack of COVID-19, businesses across the country are operating in safer, more efficient ways.
Alafaya Family Dentistry in Oviedo has always practiced strict safety precautions, but its procedures have become even more advanced in light of recent events. After a six-week hiatus during the lockdown, the wife-and-husband team of Dr. Karen Schmitt and Dr. David Ross are geared up and back in action. They might look slightly different, donned in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – wearing gowns, masks, and face shields – but it’s all part of their commitment to follow strict CDC guidelines on healthy dental operations.
During the lockdown, the doctors saw patients only on an emergency basis. By the first week of May, Dr. Schmitt was eager to get back to helping patients on a regular schedule.
“We’re always interacting with people in our profession, so to go from that to not doing anything was really tough for me,” she says.
During the closure, the two spent time preparing for the reopening, making plans, and researching new procedures to meet CDC and ADA guidelines to operate safely. From patient management to sterilization and disinfection to facility and equipment considerations, there was a lot to filter. Alafaya Family Dentistry has since instituted some new precautions to ensure the practice is safe and sanitary.
It’s all for a simple goal. The doctors want their patients to feel at ease coming into the office.
“We’ve been focusing on being able to operate in a safe manner within the new circumstances,” says Dr. Schmitt.
“We had to make some changes to what we were doing, from safety measures to how we run the practice,” adds Dr. Ross. “And we’ve been pretty darn busy,” he laughs.
Let’s Talk About Masks
Masks and protective equipment are nothing new to the dental field, but now the combination of masks, gowns, and face shields helps ensure the safety of both patients and staff.
“Dentistry has always been at the forefront of infection control,” explains Dr. Ross. “You don’t see a lot of infections in a dental office because dentists have always worn masks and practiced strict procedures.”
All staff and patients are required to wear masks while inside the building. Patients are asked to wait in their cars instead of the waiting room and are brought into the office one-at-a-time for a temperature check with a no-contact, infrared thermometer. They fill out a questionnaire to identify any possible exposure to COVID-19, either by personal contact, symptoms, or recent travel. Following that, they are asked to swish with a virus-killing rinse before being treated.
Appointments are spread out to ensure time for thorough disinfection between patient visits.
“Because the virus is an aerosol virus and not a blood-borne virus, we have to wipe down everything, which was already part of our regular protocol, but now we’ve installed HEPA filters in each patient room,” says Dr. Schmitt.
Those HEPA filters force air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles and removes them from the nearby atmosphere.
In addition, for all aerosol procedures, patients use an ISOVAC mouthpiece. Once inserted into the patient’s mouth, the bite block has a suction component that prevents any aerosols from escaping from the mouth into the air.
Because they are treating the public, the doctors take their roles as healthcare professionals seriously. Congregating in the break room is discouraged, and the doctors are limiting social activities and asking the same of their staff.
In this new climate, Alafaya Family Dentistry is doing what they would hope all businesses do: operating with strict safety measures to treat their clients with care and respect.