January 26th, 2021
What a wild ride the pandemic of COVID-19 has been over the past year. There has been so much uncertainty and emotions in fighting this invisible enemy. Just know that Dr. Morgan and the team at Perennial Smiles have been doing our part throughout to try and keep everyone as safe as possible.
In the beginning, the unknown of this pandemic really flipped this country upside down. Watching governor Mike DeWine's daily announcements about COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, and what to do was tedious, but necessary. Wearing masks, social distancing, limiting exposure by staying home were just a few of the ways to keep everyone safe. We then received the news that guidelines from Governor DeWine, the American Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontists, Ohio Dental Association, and all the various dental boards had decided to close businesses, including dental offices to slow the spread. As sad as we were, it makes sense because patients are not wearing masks while in the dental chairs, and there are many aerosolized procedures which would spread the virus faster.
In mid March of 2020, our office announced that we had to close to in-office appointments, except for emergencies. With no patients, we also had to temporarily lay off the majority of our staff. It was a very sad and difficult time. However, Dr. Morgan's commitment to safely treating our patients and keeping our office safe remains high.
There was much planning needed during the shut down, and Dr. Morgan really came through. Every day, Dr. Morgan and two staff members came into the office to make adjustments with the office, patient appointments, policies, answer phones, and see any emergency that may arise. Going through the daily schedule and weekly schedules to have to cancel and reschedule patients was very difficult. On a positive note, this created the opportunity for virtual visits! Dr. Morgan was able to still see many patients virtually to monitor them and keep their treatment progressing. It really seemed to work out well!
Keeping the office safe was another priority during this time. We knew we would reopen eventually and needed to make some changes. Thorough cleanings were done in the office during this time. Per recommendations from the dental boards, we also removed our coffee station, magazines, closed our playroom, among other changes. Our office even had an air filtration system installed inside our HVAC units that has been proven to kill the Coronavirus. With performing aerosolized procedures, we felt this was an absolute must for our office.
Next on the list of safety was protection with PPE. With the whole country scrambling for PPE, it was difficult to come by initially. Our office decided to use scrub caps, face shields, N95 and KN95 masks with a surgical mask overtop, and gowns for our clinical staff. We also purchased plexiglass shields for our staff behind desks with everyone in the office wearing at least a level 2 or level 3 surgical mask. Things were coming together and we were feeling like we could safely reopen when allowed, however the schedule still needed reworked.
During the temporary shut-down, Dr. Morgan and staff reworked the schedule so we could safely reopen when the time came. Measurements were taken so we could ensure safe distancing between chairs for patients. We also decided to keep aerosolized procedures separate from other patients and regular adjustments for increased protection. Per guidelines, we would have to limit the amount of patients and visitors allowed in our building for safety. Because of this, our waiting room area would need to remain closed. Luckily, our patient communication software allows texting for easy communication. Patients were to wait in their vehicle and text in when they arrived, and our office would text back when we were ready to see them. All staff and patients were to be screened when entering the office as well by taking temperatures and filling out a questionnaire regarding symptoms and exposures.
May 2020 came and we received the news that we were allowed to reopen! All of our staff came back and were very receptive to the new policies and procedures. Our amazing staff also agreed to work an extra day every week for weeks so we could see all the patients we had to reschedule! It was a new way of life for our office for patients to see, but slowly and safely we were getting back to normal.
As the months have gone by, we have been fortunate to have all our staff members remain healthy throughout this pandemic. Dr. Morgan and the entire team have done a wonderful job in protecting ourselves and our patients while continuing to create spectacular smiles for our community. We will still follow the recommended guidelines set by the state and dental boards as they continue. With the vaccine slowly and safely being rolled out now, hopefully life will start returning to normal and the pandemic will fade away. Stay safe everyone!