To Our Family of Patients at Alok Arora DMD,
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our family of patients for the continued support, understanding and patience. We hope you and your family have remained healthy and safe over the last 2 months. If you have been affected by COVID-19 through illness, isolation, or economic impact, please know that we are thinking of you and are here for you as we begin to resume normal dental care. Most importantly, please know that WE HAVE DEARLY MISSED YOU! We are so excited to see you again. This message is long in its entirety but I would request you to read it fully and ask us any questions you may have.
As communities are phased into normal activity, this is a perfect time to provide our patients information about some important changes in the way we will operate to continue to provide you the best oral health care possible with an uncompromised dedication to patient and team member safety. We have been closely monitoring all of the emerging science related to the COVID-19 virus. What we know is that the usual sterilization and surface disinfection protocols that we have always had in place are 100% effective in killing the virus. The products and technologies we’ve always used to clean instruments and working surfaces are designed to kill pathogens that are far more difficult to destroy than COVID-19. That said, with the unique nature of certain dental procedures and instrumentation that produce aerosol, the challenge presented is to not only to kill the virus that may land on surfaces (easy to do) but to capture any aerosol that may carry any pathogen (not just COVID-19).
Our mission is to provide the safest treatment environment possible for our patients. We will have measures in place to make our offices as safe as staying in your own home. We shall be strongly adhering to ADA, CDC and OSHA mandated frameworks.
Some procedural, technology and protocol highlights:
Phased Opening and Treatment Expansion – Our tentative opening date is June 1st. We have chosen this because a critical volume of advanced PPE (personal protective gear) will not be available until that date. Meanwhile, we did have limited supplies of this gear to treat dental emergencies which we have done safely since the interruption of usual work schedules. Please call and follow the emergency prompts to connect with your doctor in the event that you need care prior to June.
Our early treatment options will include:
- More loosely defined emergency procedures
- Cleanings without the use of ultrasonic instruments
- Exams and diagnostic procedures
- Orthodontic procedures
- Delivery of crowns already fabricated but not cemented.
We anticipate the second phase of practice operations (which will essentially include any and all treatment) to begin in late June/early July.
New Technologies and Safety Measures
Over the last few weeks, we have invested in technology and safety measures which are designed to eliminate the risk from aerosols that are created by certain procedures. As a short summary, these include installing:
Zipwall Barriers: Each dental operatory has been isolated by zipwall barriers ensuring protective chambers. Magnetic doors allow you inside and outside of each room. Each room will encompass its own sink so you can wash hands going in and out of the room.
ISOVAC: Our practice has invested in Isovac to ensure better isolation and prevention of aerosol. Isovac® is a dental isolation adapter for clinical use by dental professionals. It connects onto an existing HVE coupler or Saliva Ejector and essentially acts as an assistant for your dental hygienist. Isovac will assist in preventing aerosol from sweeping into the environment.
Negative Pressure Rooms: In hospital settings, negative pressure rooms are designed to isolate and treat patients who are suspected of, or have been diagnosed with, an airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The negative-pressure isolation room is designed to help prevent the spread of disease from a potentially infected patient to others. Each of our dental operatories have been installed with a negative pressure isolation system. What is captured in the air travels through sophisticated filtration and an eventual UV sterilization base unit so that all pathogens are eliminated before anything recirculates in the air. Thus, what’s not captured inside the mouth has no place to go but into this virus and bacteria eliminated.
HEPA Air Purification Units: An HEPA Air Purification Unit has been installed in the reception area that not only eliminates airborne particulars but also destroys them through a built-in ionization process.
Foggers for Cleaning: In addition to a rigorous surface disinfectant protocol, we are introducing an additional layer of protection through foggers. These foggers will be filled with the Hypochlorous Acid, nature’s super powerful disinfectant, and also the ingredient that gives bleach its antimicrobial power. Each room will be disinfected with Hypochlorous acid after each patient.
Splash Guards Upfront: Splash guards have been installed in the reception area to safeguard you and the staff from each other.
New Office Policies
Everything listed above will make our office one of the safest environments possible. These highlighted technologies are essentially a highly effective parachute of insurance to protect all involved from a potential asymptomatic carrier. The other tactic to reduce transmission is to eliminate the possibility of sick or potentially infected patients from entering the office.
Heightened Pre-Appointment Screening: Please be prepared to receive screening questions (whether automated through texts, email, or live phone calls). These will be similar to the questions most have undoubtedly already been asked about any illness, history or symptoms, exposure to others who may have been ill, travel…etc. Any patient who does not clear these questions appropriately will expect to have appointments rescheduled beyond guided clearance dates.
Curbside/Parked Check In: Our curbside check-in will allow you to give us a call/ text at your scheduled appointment when you reach the parking lot. Those patients who have appointments will be reminded via text to remain in their cars until their doctor or hygienist is ready for them. This will prevent patient overlap in the reception area and reinforce our 6-foot distancing policy. You will be informed what room your appointment will take place and will be escorted at entry. Please let us know if you have any questions either when you check in or when you are escorted to your room and we are more than happy to answer those for you in your room.
Face Covering and Hand Sanitizers: Everyone who enters the office will be required to wear a face covering. If you do not have a face covering with you please call the office and we will have one ready for you at the door. We have multiple hand sanitizing stations all over the office for your use.
Limiting Use of Frequently Touched Items: Our office is fully wireless and all forms can be completed through touch screen iPads. Every iPad will be disinfected after every use. In addition, our office will be accepting paperwork and payments to be collected in the isolated rooms. We recommend minimum use of pens in the office and encourage patients to carry their own pen if they intend on using it during the visit for any reason.
Individuals Permitted Into Treatment Area: We strongly encourage that only patients are taken back to the treatment rooms. However, there will be exceptions for anxious, young children or adults that require assistance. In these instances, we will permit one adult chaperone.
In-office Screening and Hygiene Measures: Temperature of everyone entering the office will be taken at entry. Anyone exhibiting a fever shall be dismissed until recovered. We recommend and encourage each patient to wash their hands before and after the appointment. All patients will also be requested to perform a 1.5% hydrogen peroxide rinse prior to care. This poses no risk to you as the patient but provides an added measure of intra-oral disinfection of your saliva and mucous membranes.
Finally, we will be seeing fewer patients per day in the office, eliminating overlapping hygiene appointment schedules and modifying waiting room traffic and arrival policies. Details will be provided upon scheduling and confirmation. These changes will support universal distancing strategies that are recommended.
We hope this information resonates with you and reinforces our commitment to your health and safety. We know you are eager to get back to normalcy and a big part of that is the commitment to maintaining your own health. We appreciate all of your calls, texts and emails asking “when can I be seen again?” We love hearing from you and can’t wait to help you and your family members maintain and improve your oral health! In fact, one of the things that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted is the importance of overall systemic health. The stronger and healthier you are, the less vulnerable you may be to complications from any infection. There is a proven link between oral/periodontal health and general systemic health. Unhealthy teeth and gums can have correlations to cardiovascular health, diabetes and other systemic issues highlighted as risk factors for anyone that may contract the COVID-19 virus. The interruption to all dental procedures (besides absolute emergency care) was a necessary step over the last couple of months as a global strategy to combat the pandemic. The next equally important phase is to restore normal health and dental care services so that we all become healthier as a population.
For patients who had appointments canceled in March, April and May, please be on the lookout for communication from our front office and hygiene teams. They will be calling you in the next 2-3 weeks to rebuild your appointments into the summer schedule and to answer any other questions you may have. Due to the huge escalation in PPE consumables costs we have incorporated a patient safety fee of $20.00 that will be collected prior to each appointment. Some insurance carriers are considering this as a covered benefit and we will bill them on your behalf but if not covered, it will be the patient’s responsibility. Please understand that there is absolutely no profit built into this fee, it is only designed to offset the tremendous increase in overhead associated with the elevated costs per visit. As supply pipelines open up and costs of PPE materials subside, we would like nothing more than to reduce or eliminate this fee as it is not in any way an aspect of our business model.
Our biggest concern remains the safety of our patients while delivering the best oral health care possible. If you have any additional recommendations to enhance overall safety feel free to email or call us. We look forward to seeing you all soon.
Stay healthy and safe
Alok Arora and his Team