In the 27 years I’ve been in dentistry the current status of COVID 19 is one of the most unique challenges we have faced. What most of us crave now, both personally and professionally, is certainty. Yet we must be patient, focused on the facts, and flexible as we navigate through the upcoming days and weeks.

Let’s focus on the facts:
Here’s what the ADA is saying.
Here’s what the CDC is saying.
Here’s what CEDR HR Solutions is saying. You can find their FB page, which is full of great information, here.
Here’s what your State’s Dental Association is saying (find a link to your state’s DA here).

Be sure to take time to view the monitoring dashboard report from Dental Intel. They will be issuing this weekly to show these key metrics from their 7,000 plus client offices, week by week.

What you CAN do:
Remember, mind-set is key. While every dental practice in America will be affected in some ways by COVID 19, a large part of the impact of the virus will be related to the thoughts we have, which are driven by the questions we ask ourselves, and in turn, the decisions we make.

Here are a few tips to keep our mindsets in check:

  1. Focus on what we can control. We can control what we feed our minds and bodies. Stay out of the hysteria and look only to valid/trusted sources.
  2. Realize the importance of the questions we ask ourselves. If you find yourselves with extra time on your hands, read the book, “Learned Optimism,” by Martin Seligman. It is one of the best books I have ever read on the power of adapting our own mindset.
  3. Get plenty of rest.
  4. Put into practice The Fundamental Techniques for Overcoming Worry from Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”

Here they are:

  1. Live in “day-tight” compartments (this situation changes daily, so let’s not borrow from tomorrow’s troubles)
  2. How to face trouble:
    1. Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen today?
    2. Prepare to accept it (if that is what happens)
    3. Try to improve upon the worst
  3. Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health.

While our country updates the current COVID19 recommendations day by day, we must be prepared to scale down, and even temporarily close our practices if that is mandated. This is not an advisory that offices should scale down, yet a proactive approach for planning should this be necessary.

If you see that your practice is slowing down or you make a decision to scale down operations temporarily:

  1. Ask team members if they would prefer to take unpaid time off (for those who can) or who would like to take paid time off in order to decrease staffing for a period of time.
  2. Check with your state labor board in addition to checking out the Bent Erickson website (see other document), to see options for employees using sick leave or being paid for their time out of the office.
  3. If there is a need to have fewer team members and patients in the office, consider a lighter schedule of team members in the office at once. For example, if there are normally two chairs of operative and three chairs of hygiene, consider scaling back to one chair of operative and one chair of hygiene. Minimally, you could staff one chair of operative in order to see emergencies.
  4. To reduce the number of individuals in the office at any time, send a text reminder and let patients know they may check in from their vehicles and be called in when we are ready to seat them.
  5. Depending on workflow, utilize this slower time for training on OSHA, Dental Software, Scripting, etc.
  6. Look at your team projects and to-do lists and take next steps to bring those to completion. Deep clean the office (dusting, cobweb removals, etc), clean up and spruce up the outside of the building, and be sure equipment maintenance and softwares are up to date.
  7. Begin to put together reactivation plans for hygiene and unscheduled treatment, as soon as the COVID19 limitations are limited.

– Penny