We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on our situation. The prevalence of COVID-19 has continued to grow. Please continue to reference the Team Member Exposure Policy and work with your Regional President to ensure we are taking appropriate actions at the individual and practice level.
As a company we are working to serve our social responsibility to help “flatten the curve” while also caring for our patients’ essential dental needs. As healthcare providers we play an essential role in managing dental emergencies which can lighten the workload on our local hospitals and urgent care facilities. We’ve seen communications from multiple states emphasizing the importance of continuing our ability to provide essential care and avoid patient abandonment, this is true even in states that have instituted “Shelter in Place.” At the same time, we respect and support team members who feel unsafe or have personal circumstances that would prevent them from working. Circumstances could include medical conditions, child care, elder care or living with someone who may have a chronic illness or other health compromised conditions.
I’ve included below some guidelines for patient care as well as a literature review for mask protocols in the dental setting. I’ve also included a Message to KY healthcare providers from Dr.Stack, Commissioner for Public Health.
All patients with no signs, symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19 virus
Patient has indicated direct exposure to someone with confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 virus but not currently experiencing signs or symptoms of COVID-19 viral infection
Patients showing signs, symptoms or confirmed to have COVID-19 viral infection
Based on our current situation recommendations are changing rapidly. And I think it’s worth noting that not all resources are aligned on what best practices are. I’ve done my best to include the most up to date and pertinent information available.
If worn properly, a surgical mask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose. Surgical masks may also help reduce exposure of your saliva and respiratory secretions to others.
While a surgical mask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, a face mask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures. Surgical masks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the face mask and your face.
Surgical masks are not intended to be used more than once. If your mask is damaged or soiled, or if breathing through the mask becomes difficult, you should remove the face mask, discard it safely, and replace it with a new one. To safely discard your mask, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. Wash your hands after handling the used mask.
Primary PPE used in oral health-care settings includes gloves, surgical masks, protective eyewear, face shields, and protective clothing (e.g., gowns and jackets).
Masks, Protective Eyewear, Face Shields A surgical mask that covers both the nose and mouth and protective eyewear with solid side shields or a face shield should be worn by DHCP during procedures and patient-care activities likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood or body fluids.
The majority of surgical masks are not NIOSH-certified as respirators, do not protect the user adequately from exposure to TB, and do not satisfy OSHA requirements for respiratory protection (174,175). However, certain surgical masks (i.e., surgical N95 respirator) do meet the requirements and are certified by NIOSH as respirators. The level of protection a respirator provides is determined by the efficiency of the filter material for incoming air and how well the face piece fits or seals to the face (e.g., qualitatively or quantitatively tested in a reliable way to obtain a face-seal leakage of <10% and to fit the different facial sizes and characteristics of HCP). When respirators are used while treating patients with diseases requiring airborne-transmission precautions (e.g., TB), they should be used in the context of a complete respiratory protection program (175). This program should include training and fit testing to ensure an adequate seal between the edges of the respirator and the wearer’s face. Detailed information regarding respirator programs, including fit-test procedures are available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/99-143.html (174,176).
FDA-cleared surgical masks are designed to protect against splashes and sprays and are prioritized for use when such exposures are anticipated, including surgical procedures.
Dentists are urged to view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 situation webpage for current insight. Standard precautions should be taken with all patients, at all times.
The CDC has not changed its guidance on single-use disposable facemasks, which are regulated by FDA to be single use and should be worn once and discarded.
Page 41 of the CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings has the following guidance:
Very High Exposure Risk Very high exposure risk jobs are those with high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19 during specific medical, postmortem, or laboratory procedures. Workers in this category include: ■ Healthcare workers (e.g., doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, emergency medical technicians) performing aerosol-generating procedures (e.g., intubation, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopies, some dental procedures and exams, or invasive specimen collection) on known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Most workers at high or very high exposure risk likely need to wear gloves, a gown, a face shield or goggles, and either a face mask or a respirator, depending on their job tasks and exposure risks. Those who work closely with (either in contact with or within 6 feet of) patients known to be, or suspected of being, infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, should wear respirators. In these instances, see the PPE section beginning on page 14 of this booklet, which provides more details about respirators. For the most up-to-date information, also visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage.
Based on the possibility of the spread of 2019-nCoV infection, three-level protective measures of the dental professionals are recommended for specific situations. (1) Primary protection (standard protection for staff in clinical settings). Wearing disposable working cap, disposable surgical mask, and working clothes (white coat), using protective goggles or face shield, and disposable latex gloves or nitrile gloves if necessary. (2) Secondary protection (advanced protection for dental professionals). Wearing disposable doctor cap, disposable surgical mask, protective goggles, face shield, and working clothes (white coat) with disposable isolation clothing or surgical clothes outside, and disposable latex gloves. (3) Tertiary protection (strengthened protection when contact patient with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV infection). Although a patient with 2019-nCoV infection is not expected to be treated in the dental clinic, in the unlikely event that this does occur, and the dental professional cannot avoid close contact, special protective outwear is needed. If protective outwear is not available, working clothes (white coat) with extra disposable protective clothing outside should be worn. In addition, disposable doctor cap, protective goggles, face shield, disposable surgical mask, disposable latex gloves, and impermeable shoe cover should be worn.
We want to share with you the latest updates available on COVID-19 and our response. The outbreak has continued to spread across the country. We have seen the recommendations change rapidly and vary greatly across a number of credible sources. Our ability to treat patients will likely be limited as State and National regulatory recommendations roll out. At this time our practices in Kentucky and Ohio have been asked by the State Dental Boards to limit dental care to emergency only. Expect lots of communications over the next 24 hours to help you facilitate these directives. Practice closures will be coordinated with the Doctor(s) and Regional President.
We are defining “emergency dental care” as 1) patient in pain, 2) patient with an acute infection or 3) other care at the discretion of the treating dentist.
Please follow the direction of your regional leadership team on logistics as we transition our practices. We are working to do everything we can to help support you at the practice level.
As we treat patients (either emergency or otherwise), consider the following:
If the patient answers “Yes” to either question, reschedule — at least 8 weeks out.
The information we are receiving from Patterson on mask shortages is constantly changing. Most of the item numbers I shared with you last week are now truly out of stock. The good news is that Patterson has updated their website to reflect existing inventory. The limit is still two (2) item numbers per week per office. Check the Patterson website regularly for updated availability.
Thank you for your amazing care and commitment to our patients and each other. Much in our immediate future is uncertain. As we lean on our values to Share Abundantly, Care for Everyone, Express Gratitude and Build Relationships, I’m confident we can make it through these challenging times and be better for it on the other end.
I want to give you an update on the efforts we are making to get ahead of the rapidly changing situation surrounding COVID-19. We’ve been aggressively exploring proactive measures to support our business while keeping the safety of our team and patients first. Our goal is to be as prepared as possible as we continue to see school closures and other critical infrastructure changes occur.
We sent out an email communication to all patients earlier today informing them about COVID-19 and our commitment to their safety. We also requested that all patients who are experiencing symptoms of the flu or a respiratory infection or have been exposed to a person with coronavirus or any other communicable disease, to reschedule their appointments. If you would like to view the full doc you can find it here https://mdpweb.net/coronavirus/patient-email-being-sent-today/
Shortly, we’ll be rolling out a tool to help your local leaders determine how to best support team members who may be impacted as a result of school closures or other COVID-19 related disruptions.
At the Practice
Within the next few days you can expect a number of changes, including:
New practice resources on the website
New benefits resources on the website
Billing and Collections
Good morning team,
I just wanted to give you a quick update on COVID-19. Over the last week there have been cases confirmed in some of our regions. However the CDC has continued to say that “For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.”
At this point we have decided NOT to limit travel for our company. However, if you are not comfortable traveling please notify your direct report so that we can make alternative plans.
As you may have seen in a recent email from Tabby our supply of masks from Patterson is limited. Please be conscientious of mask usage.
A few other recommendations
Dear Team Members,
We would like to provide the most current and applicable information on the COVID19 (Coronavirus) and our dental practices.
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID19 in any of our regions. The immediate health risk from the coronavirus to the general American public is considered low at this time, according to the CDC.
Transmission of the virus is airborne, resulting from close contact with someone infected who is coughing or sneezing. It may be possible that a person could become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
What does this mean for us? Safety for our team members and patients continues to be our first priority. COVID19 joins a long list of communicable diseases that we have potential exposure to. It is vital that we exercise standard precautions, specifically:
One additional recommendation from the ADA: “Dental personnel should be alert and identify patients with an acute respiratory illness when they arrive, give them a disposable surgical face mask to wear and isolate them in a single-patient room with the door kept closed to limit their contact with other patients and personnel. Isolated patients should wear their masks outside their rooms.” Note: We should recommend patients experiencing flu-like symptoms to reschedule non-emergency treatment until symptoms subside.
As an organization, we are meeting to determine additional contingency plans in the event the situation changes and/or there is business interruption.
As additional information or recommendations come from the CDC or ADA we’ll be sure to keep you updated.
Thank you for your commitment to patient and team member safety.
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