Pediatric Dentistry of Brooklyn’s COVID-19 Response
June 22, 2020
We all have been through so much uncertainty over the past few months, and we hope that you and your family are in good health. At Pediatric Dentistry of Brooklyn, we are actively planning for how we can return to normal activities in the “New Normal” in which we find ourselves. While many things have changed, our commitment to our patients’ health and safety remains our primary concern.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, our office adhered to all infection control recommendations in accordance with the American Dental Association (ADA), the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). With the onset of COVID-19, both OSHA and the CDC have issued updated guidelines for dental offices. While our offices have been closed due to the pandemic, we have been closely following these updated guidelines in order to ensure full compliance with patient care and safety best practices when our practice re-opens.
We want you to feel as comfortable as possible with bringing your children back to our office for dental care and we are proud to highlight the steps we have taken to make it as safe as possible. Allow us to share the updated policies, procedures and technologies that we have instituted in order to ensure the safest possible experience for your family while in our office.
Our office has contracted with an Environmental Health and Safety consulting firm to develop and coordinate our updated protocols, as well as provide all the direct training to our doctors and staff.
A visit to the dentist carries the same risks of exposure to COVID-19 as a visit to any public setting. Visiting the dentist has additional risk due to the potential for exposure to aerosol (liquid or solid fragments from the mouth) produced by dental procedures. In general, the aerosol concern is why masks are strongly recommended or mandated in this pandemic to minimize the spread of the disease during any close interaction with others. Since almost all dental procedures produce aerosols, this concern needs to be dealt with even more comprehensively in a dental office setting.
With that in mind, we have arranged our office schedule and developed new appointment and office procedures to minimize these risks and protect you, your children and our staff. We are adjusting appointment times and staggering them to limit direct interaction with other patients while in the office. Although the number of appointment slots may need to be decreased per day to adhere to social distancing guidelines, we are trying to maximize our office hours to accommodate all needed patient care. We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we work to be able to accommodate appointments that have been missed since March 15.
We ask that only one parent per family enter the office to accompany each visit. We also ask that children who are not seeing the dentist not be brought along to the dental visit.
- A COVID19 pre-screening questionnaire will be completed with our staff at appointment confirmation either via phone or email.
- If you, your child, or household member is experiencing flu-like symptoms, loss of taste/smell, fever, or has had recent exposure to COVID19, please call the office to reschedule your child’s appointment.
- Upon entering the ground floor lobby of 32 Court Street, all visitors will first come to a digital kiosk where they will be asked to complete a short health questionnaire (YES, NO, or N/A answers). Building personnel will be ensuring that all visitors are wearing appropriate face coverings, as per New York law. Social distancing rules will be maintained in elevators by limiting the number of passengers per car. Please allow for extra time to enter the building and arrive at our office on the 6th floor.
- Upon entry to our office, all patients and caregivers, as well as all doctors and office staff, will be screened for fever using touchless thermometer, and asked about COVID19-related symptoms. Any individuals with COVID19-like symptoms or a fever of at least 100.3° F will be asked to return home (Please note that the CDC defines a fever as ≥100.4°F)
- All visitors must sanitize their hands immediately upon entering the office using one of the hand sanitizing stations throughout the office. Face coverings must be worn by all staff and parents throughout the appointment.
We are adjusting appointment times and staggering them to limit direct interaction with other patients while in the office. Appointment times will be decreased per day to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Our office hours will also be adjusted to accommodate patient care.
We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we work to expand our schedule hours to be able to accommodate appointments that have been missed since March 15.
We ask that no more than one parent or caregiver enter the office to accompany their child(ren) to each visit. We also ask that no additional children be brought along to the dental visit who do not have appointments.
Our waiting room has been rearranged using acrylic barriers and chair relocation to ensure that there can be distinct areas for families to safely sit, while keeping maintaining proper social distancing measures.
Just like at the checkout counters in the grocery store and the deli, you’ll notice plexiglass barriers on the counters in front of our smiling office staff, and you’ll also recognize the (by now) familiar decals on the floor to help ensure that social distancing easily followed.
We’ve also updated our credit card equipment to eliminate handing a credit card over the counter.
Although you won’t be able to see it, we have installed a UV irradiation sanitizing system inside the HVAC system ducts which passively sanitizes all of the air circulating in the cooling system throughout the office.
We are utilizing iQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifiers and Surgically Clean Air surgical filters in the common areas, as well as in each dental treatment room, which clean air more effectively than regular HEPA systems. This allows us to filter and clear all air in the operatories more completely of any potential aerosolized emissions. These powerful air purifiers filter and clear the air faster than the current CDC recommendations for air changes per hour (ACH). Together, these measures greatly reduce any aerosol issue being present throughout the entire dental office.
We have installed additional high-speed suction equipment for the hygienists to use during the cleanings, and for the doctors to use during aerosol generating procedures. These have been shown to reduce aerosols by up to 90% in the studies that have already been done. Some of these devices we had actually already been using, but some may look new to you as well.
All the staff will be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). This may look a little different but is of the utmost importance. You’ll immediately notice that the doctors, assistants and hygienists are all wearing a surgical mask over the N95 mask, as well as a face shield. The gowns and gloves are similar to what we’ve worn before so it may not seem so different. These all must be changed or disinfected between every patient interaction.
We’ve invested in a commercial fogging system which is used in each dental treatment room after every patient. When used with the appropriate EPA disinfectant, this ensures that all areas are addressed and nothing is missed. The fogging system is also used in the waiting room and common areas at set scheduled times throughout the day.
We have established a strict disinfection schedule addressing all of the high touch areas throughout the office using the highest-level EPA approved disinfectant for COVID-19.
The building has recently renovated the bathrooms on our floor and they are sanitized throughout the day as well for the safety of all visitors. Please note that the bathroom inside our office must now be limited to staff and employees for the foreseeable future.
We feel strongly that every parent needs to feel comfortable with the steps being taken regarding the overall situation. In spite of all these necessary changes, we want to ensure that your child’s dental visit remains as smooth as possible. We are committed to the highest standards of patient safety, comfort and care. We thank you in advance for your patience, understanding and flexibility during this unique time.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.
We can’t wait to see you all again in person!
Zev Tendler, DDS
Keren Etzion, DDS