COVID-19 Office Updates

8/25/2020

 

Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health. Our country and community continue negotiating the unknowns of this troublesome pandemic. All of us are looking forward to resuming our normal habits and routines. As you know by now, we are open with some refinements and limitations. While many things have changed, one remains the same: Our commitment to your safety.

Infection control has always been a top priority for our practice. I would suspect that you have seen this clearly during your past visits to our office. Dental offices have been on the cutting edge of sanitation and safety ever since the late 1980’s when HIV taught us valuable lessons on disinfection and sterilization. COVID has simply upped the ante on such and reinforced the importance of attention to detail. We are using many of the techniques we already knew and adding others to further protect both patients and staff.

While we work very hard to remain state-of-the-art in the scientific aspects of infection control and of dentistry itself, it can be difficult to get the word out on the current state of affairs. I will communicate our situation to you as the situation progresses and keep everyone up to date. I’d like to think we’re quite good at the technical aspects of dentistry. Communicating the events, happenings, changes, and details of what is going on behind the scenes in our office is a different challenge. We have heard overwhelming appreciation for previous letters. This letter is lengthy and detailed but contains important information. I will provide short, more specific updates in the future. I share the following information to update you on where we stand at each office and what to expect going forward.

Scheduling

We are now providing most types of dental treatment, just with some significant differences. Some you will see overtly. Others should be very much behind the scenes. Our responses to COVID are either required by the State of Ohio Dental Board or of our own volition to provide for your safety and peace of mind.

While many of you can work very effectively from home, as you can imagine, that option does not work terribly well for dentistry! You have surely noticed some variations to the normal schedule and some changes in procedures. We are seeing fewer patients and limiting some procedures for high risk patients, but we are operating very safely and effectively at this point.

Our Team

Yes, we are experiencing significant staffing complications. These have likely already affected your appointments and may continue to do so into the near future. I am compelled to graciously request your patience regarding such. These transitional difficulties stem from the fact that some staff cannot obtain day care or have children who are unable to return to school. Some have their own immune compromise and are thus limited in their capacity to protect themselves. Thus, they are unable to return to their original or preferred schedule. Like many businesses, this is just something we have to deal with and will manage to our very best. We juggle the schedule every single day; adding, deleting, or moving appointments around to try to get you
back in the fold.

You may very well get a call changing your appointment time, date or provider based purely on staff availability. We very much understand the inconvenience this presents for you and are doing everything possible to compensate. I apologize to those of you who get moved around and off schedule, especially if it happens more than once. There is simply no way around such headaches until the dust settles. We want you to be completely assured that you are valued and that we are diligently working to solve and serve.

I continue to believe that seeing the same doc or hygienist regularly has value. I know that it is becoming more common that the medical field places less emphasis on provider consistency. Our practice philosophy involves knowing you personally and understanding your history. This, without doubt, allows us to serve you better. We also enjoy the personal interaction and appreciate the opportunity to form long-term relationships. We will strive to get most appointments scheduled and handled with your provider of choice. That being said, it is very possible that during this time you may likely see either Dr. Palm or myself and any one of our great hygienists. While variations to ideal scheduling may arise, we hire for excellence so I know you’re in good hands. I would ask that we just look at it as the opportunity to get to know everyone until things settle back into the routine.

While most offices have completely lost hygienists, we have been able to attract more staff of the the highest quality. One of the goals of our new facility was to create an environment that attracts the happiest, best and brightest in our field. That has proven critical during this COVID bump-in-the-road. We’ve seen that the atmosphere here and the opportunity to form lasting relationships has brought us outstanding caregivers. Even so, we will be in flux for a while. Sherry will be in and out until the school situation is resolved. Gail has semi-retired. Tiffany’s childcare situation remains up in the air,…etc.

On the bright side, though, Faith is extending her hours to cover the shortage. Makenzie, Kevin and Carmen have jumped on board to help get our patients back on their regular routine. So far, all of our long-time Expanded Functions Dental Assistants, Starla, Linda, Sam and Amy, are fully available. We do want you to visit with the same staff whenever possible, but, frankly, it may be awhile until the hygienists are back on regular, rotating schedules. Much of that will depend on the schools and on family responsibilities. I appreciate your patience as we work towards getting things back to our normal.

Indian Ripple and Lakeview Offices

We are now back working at both offices. I feel fortunate to still remain upright, both personally and professionally, despite both a tornado and a pandemic in the last year.

Our new “Keep Smiling”, Indian Ripple office was planned from the ground up with state-of-the-art technology and infection control in mind. Thus, meeting the requirements for safety during COVID and long after is routine here.

(By the way, “Keep Smiling” is simply a business, branding thing for the distant future of the practice. We are and will remain a traditional private practice; personally owned, operated, and staffed by Drs. Roddy and Palm. We are not corporate, will not be corporate, and plan to maintain traditional doctor/patient relationships the way we have for years.)

The rebuild of the Lakeview office from last year’s tornado damage is finally complete and we have now re- opened there with the same upgrades. Even before the storm, Lakeview was perfectly functional and far better equipped than most dental offices. While the original plan was not to upgrade Lakeview just yet, Mother Nature had other ideas. The complete destruction of the interior necessitated that every piece of equipment there is brand new and nearly identical to that at Indian Ripple.

We know that some of you had always intended to keep Lakeview as your dental office. Thus, we are glad to announce that we’re prepared to have you return. Of course, this adds yet another complication to our scheduling because the tornado forced many of you to travel to Indian Ripple where records are now intermingled. The computers and all systems are now fully connected between offices. You are welcome, at this point, to call and specify which location works best geographically for you and your family. It will likely take us a few months to return everyone to their rightful home, but the opportunity is now at our disposal. Please call us and let us know if your intention was to stay at Lakeview as we can now get you back there.

In every situation, aside from the temporary staffing hurdles at hand, we want you to be able to choose where you go and who you see. You may opt to choose based on personal preference, geography, insurance, or your desired care provider.

To find Joe or me:

For now, I will be treating patients exclusively at Indian Ripple, scheduling from Monday thru Thursday. It is somewhat possible that I may add limited hours at Lakeview but not yet…there remain other hurdles to jump before I schedule back home. Dr. Palm will be available on a rotating schedule Monday thru Friday. For now, he is scheduling at Lakeview Tuesdays and Thursdays and is available the other days at Indian Ripple. He also has evening hours on Wednesdays at Indian Ripple. Pick your treatment day with him based on which location you prefer. Dr. Schneider is also back at Lakeview Monday thru Thursday. Please make special note of which location you are scheduled (confirmed by text or phone three days before) until we get past the transition curve
of re-opening Lakeview. Everyone should be able to settle back into his or her home office with consistency shortly.

Appointment Protocol

Waiting room and treatment room procedures remain a little more complex and even overkill, but all are in your best interest. By now you have experienced our WEAVE phone, scheduling, and text system for improved communications. Your pre-appointment text continues to mirror the recommendations from the American Dental Association. You may choose to wait in your car or use the lounge or patio if space permits for proper distancing. Masks remain an absolute mandate from the State in dental offices. I hope you will understand the value of our extra effort and its ultimate goal of safety and protection. Our care and our infection control processes are designed such that when you do receive care, it is both safe and comfortable.

Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the ADA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies literally daily so that we are up to date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do so to ensure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agency’s recommendations.

To update my previous letter, let’s review our requirements and some minor changes you’ll encounter at your
next appointment. We have implemented and now solidified these changes in the interest of attention to detail
and for the protection of our patients and staff. For example:

*Our office will communicate with you beforehand to ask some screening questions. You’ll be asked those same questions again when you are in the office. We are required to take your temperature immediately upon entering.

*We will offer hand sanitizer that we will ask you to use when you enter the office. You will also find this in the reception area and other places in the office for you to use as needed. You’ll be given a one-minute peroxide rinse before treatment. You will be asked to wear a mask when not being actively treated or should there be discussions outside the treatment areas or around other patients. This is a strictly required by the State and a pre-requisite to our re-opening.

*For your safety, you’ll find extreme attention to what I am terming “Professional Distancing”. While some measures may seem excessive, you’re worth it.

*You may see that our waiting room has not offered magazines, children’s toys and so forth for quite some time, as those items are difficult to clean and disinfect.

*Appointment times will be staggered to allow for social distancing and thorough disinfection between patients. That might mean that you’re offered fewer options for scheduling your appointment.

*We will do our best to allow greater time between patients to reduce waiting times for you, as well as to reduce the number of patients in the reception area at any one time. Distancing is mandatory should you have any wait time.

*You are asked, when possible, not to bring others with you to your appointment. Caregivers for children and elderly patients who must be accompanied to the office will be asked to return to either their vehicle or the waiting room, for the duration of appointments. Patients, except in specific medical circumstances, may not be accompanied into the treatment areas with family (per CDC directive).

*Our waiting room is partially open with strict limitations. We hope not to give you time to wait, but should that be necessary, we offer options. If you are comfortable with and can maintain distancing, both the lobby and the outside patio are available. We may request you consider using your car as you personal waiting room, especially if distancing cannot be adequately maintained in even our large lounge.

*You will see an added fee labeled “Infection Control” every appointment. We apologize for the cost and the fact that insurance companies are not yet covering it. Our costs and time involved in added protective equipment and disinfection measures are immense cannot be managed otherwise. We will actually be lowering this fee from $15 to $10 beginning September 1 as we have now covered some large initial costs. You will be asked to cover this charge each appointment at check-out irrespective of whether other fees are currently due or delayed. We are also trying to combine procedures to create less visits and fewer charges. Whether or not this is temporary or permanent will be based upon the science as it is further discovered.
Bottom line: We believe you will agree that the detailed attention to the protection of your health and that of your family is absolutely worth it.

*Our staff will don a variety of Personal Protective Equipment which will vary based upon the procedure at hand. Scrubs, gowns, shields, etc…you know the routine by now. You will see every team member in a mask throughout the entirety of their day (per Ohio guidelines). Please forgive the impersonal nature of such. As much as I want to share my smile, shake your hand, or give you a hug, the State says “no”. I know it’s awkward, but, for now, it’s the right thing to do.

*Again, we will continue to have staffing difficulties as some members of our team have young children at home and currently no options for day care. We’ll do our best to get back up to speed, with the health of our patients and our staff as top priority.

*We are glad to accept a limited number of new patients, by referral from our existing patients or from other dentists and specialists. While existing patients will take priority, having Dr. Palm on board allows us to continue to serve your family or friends.

Amongst all this change, many positives exist. The up side:

This situation will result in significant and rapid advances in microbiology and virology – ones that should preclude this sort of event in the future. Advances in vaccines and pharmacology are inevitable. Funding for research that was cut off in the 1990’s should be restored and lead to greater understanding. Technology and equipment will improve and result in the next generation of advances in dental care, improved overall health and increased safety.

From the standpoint of your own dental care, we know that the delays in available care may have allowed some dental or periodontal problems to advance. It will take us some time to get everyone caught up.

We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice. To make an appointment, please call our office at (937) 426-5340 or visit our website at roddydental.com.

Thank you for your patience during these times and for being a part of our family. We value your trust and loyalty and always look forward to getting back together with our patients, neighbors, family, and friends.

Sincerely,

Ronald L. Roddy, DDS