corona

The current DSDS recommendation regarding dental treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic expires on April 30, 2020. As stated in previous messages, there are a lot of critical factors that need to be considered before we update our formal recommendation.

At the end of March, the DSDS formally recommended that all Delaware dentists limit their practices to urgent/emergency care only until April 20, 2020, and later extended it to April 30, 2020. During that time, Governor Carney issued a stay-at-home order  closing all non-essential businesses. Although dental offices were classified as essential businesses and were allowed to remain open, the DSDS determined that it was appropriate to help control the spread of COVID-19 across the state by closing our offices to routine dentistry.

As we now approach the end of April, we believe that dentists in Delaware have greatly contributed to flattening the curve of the COVID-19 spread, while keeping patients with urgent dental needs out of hospital emergency departments. By limiting our practices to emergency care, we also allowed scarce PPE resources to be preserved for front line health care workers as they dealt with COVID-19 patients.

The DSDS is issuing guidance for Delaware dentists to slowly transition back into routine dental care starting May 4, 2020.

 With the recent increase in production and importation of equipment and supplies, there is now a steady increase in the availability of PPE. In addition, there is concern that the delay and subsequent backlog of non-emergency dental care will soon have a catastrophic effect on the oral health and overall health of Delawareans. As you all know, routine dental visits are essential for the diagnosis of dental and oral health problems and prompt treatment of these problems can prevent more invasive procedures and more extensive problems.

In order to safely re-open our dental offices to routine care during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DSDS strongly urges all dentists to continue to follow the same guidelines/protocols that they have been using while treating emergency/urgent dental needs since the start of this pandemic. As a minimum, special consideration should be given to screening our patients and staff before entering the office, reconfiguring our office waiting rooms to allow for social distancing, and staggering appointments which limits the number of people in our offices and allows for additional time for cleaning and disinfecting between patients. In addition, please review the latest modification to Governor Carney’s State of Emergency (see below).

In preparation for office re-opening, the DSDS established an Ad Hoc Committee Task Force to provide dentists with important tools and resources to protect their patients, office staff and themselves. As mentioned in my message on April 25, we are working on assembling the findings of our Task Force into a Return to Work Guide. The guide is a compilation of the ADA Interim Guidance for Minimizing Risk of COVID-19 Transmission, the ADA Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit and the findings of the five work groups of our Task Force.  In order to utilize our guide effectively, all members should have access to both of these ADA documents. The first one can be found using the following link:

https://www.ada.org/~/media/CPS/Files/COVID/ADA_COVID_Int_Guidance_Treat_Pts.pdf?utm_source=adaorg&utm_medium=covi%20d-resources-lp&utm_content=cv-pm-ebd-interim-response&utm_campaign=covid-19

The ADA Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit was released on Monday, April 27. All members should have received an email from the ADA which explains how to access that document. Alternatively, you can get the toolkit by clicking on the link on the homepage of www.ADA.org/virus. You will need to enter your name and email address and the toolkit will be emailed to you. Please make sure to do this as soon as possible so you will have it to review and use to customize our Return to Work guide for your office.

We understand the fear and anxiety that may still exist as we contemplate re-opening our offices to routine care. As dentists, we need to respect these concerns and remain flexible with our team members as we slowly return to a new normal. We strongly urge dentists to re-open at their own pace to ensure the safety of their staff, their patients and themselves. For many, this may entail a phased approach, starting with more urgent procedures and slowly re-introducing more elective restorative procedures and hygiene over a period of weeks. All dentists must exercise independent professional judgment when deciding when and how to safely reopen. Safety is an absolute priority and the DSDS is committed to assisting all of its members to achieve that goal.

As always, I appreciate your comments and questions, so please feel free to email me at cathyharrisdmd@hotmail.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cath Harris

Cathy Harris, DMD
DSDS President

https://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2020/04/Thirteenth-Modification-to-State-of-Emergency-April-25-2020.pdf

Under Governor Carney's modified order, businesses must also take certain steps to keep their employees and customers safe.

By 8:00 a.m. on Friday, May 1, businesses must:

  • Require employees to wear a face covering while working in areas open to the public and in areas where coming within 6 feet of other staff is likely.
  • Provide, at the business' expense, face coverings and hand sanitizer for their employees.
  • Deny entry to individuals who do not have a face covering - or if one is not available for them.
  • If any business denying entry is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, the business must provide alternate methods of pickup or delivery.
 
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