The Coronavirus is getting a lot of attention these days…and it should. There is power in knowing everything about a virus that has the potential to be dangerous – especially for more vulnerable younger and older friends and family.
To explain the title of this blog, and maybe clarify, we had no way of knowing specifically that the Coronavirus, or for that matter, SARS, Ebola, or any other emerging public health threat from the past, would cause so many people to get sick.
What we did know, was that at any point in time there will be an emerging “threat”. Therefore, we always assume there is a yet unknown threat lurking, and our procedures reflect that assumption.
Our Infection Control Procedures
Disease transmission, bloodborne pathogens, and Personal Protective Equipment are all terms that sound scary and might be unfamiliar to you, but they are topics we talk about all the time in our Newport News, VA dentist office as part of our quarterly Infection Control meetings.
Our office has standards in place that are designed to prevent transmission of all diseases.
Our patients know that we take our infection control processes very seriously, including (but not limited to) the following steps:
- All new patients get a tour that includes our sterilization area.
- Every autoclave load has at least four different sterilization verification indicators.
- The tour includes explaining the multiple checklists that we use to record both digital and manual methods to verify the sterilization of our instruments.
- Checklists are cross-checked by our clinicians.
- Our clinical waterlines are not connected to city water. Instead, we use self-contained systems that undergo constant testing.
(We use a lot of checklists in our office for a lot of reasons, including infection control and safety, as described by Atul Gawande MD, MPH (surgeon, public health researcher) in his best-selling book The Checklist Manifesto.)
Our quarterly Infection Control meetings include our entire team. We review current methods and make sure that we are meeting or exceeding all recommendations. We use guidance from the CDC, as well as state and local authorities.
All of our team members have the ability on any day, at any time to point out or call for a discussion of any aspect of our infection control systems that need attention.
Please keep in mind that we treat our patients as we want to be treated. Our team treats our own children, parents, brothers, sisters, and close friends exactly the same as we treat all of our patients.
Specifically, about the Coronavirus. We have discussed the Coronavirus in our weekly meetings. In the past we have had similar conversations about the yearly flu, Ebola, Hepatitis, SARS, and whatever emerging pathogen is on the horizon.
Today, March 9, 2020, we will once again talk about the Coronavirus using the CDC’s Interim US Guidelines that were just updated on Saturday, March 7, concerning Health Care Personnel.
It is important to recognize that, unlike a physician’s office, we do not treat people that are currently sick with infectious diseases. If our patients have a scheduled appointment but they are sick, then they will cancel their appointment. If they come to the office feeling sick and want to keep their appointment, but it makes sense to reschedule, then we will politely reschedule the appointment. We have always done this.
What about people who are carrying the virus, but are either not sick yet or have symptoms that are so minor that they can be confused with allergies or a basic cold? As stated above, our “Every Patient, Every Day” universal precautions will go a long way toward preventing transmission.
Our exceptional team practices (and encourages our patients to practice) that the best defense is a great offense. Stay as healthy as you can at all times so that you are ready for whatever may come your way. This means respecting and investing in high-quality nutrition, activity, and sleep – and lots of sunlight! Just 30 minutes a day of exposure to the sun can give your immune system a huge boost. Try to leave your face, head, neck, and hands exposed if it makes sense and you can do so.
What about your specific situation? If you have been advised to stay home by your physician due to factors specific to you, then we can reschedule your appointment.
However, if you feel comfortable leaving your house to go to work, public restrooms, the grocery store, Costco, your fitness center, the pharmacy, restaurants, church, and school events, then you should feel very safe in our office as we are actually safer than all of those places just mentioned!
If you have any questions at any time regarding any aspect of our infection control, please feel free to ask.
Your safety has always been our #1 concern and always will be.