The offices of the oral and maxillofacial surgeon are typically one of the cleanest and most antiseptic environments that can be found in outpatient healthcare. Because our specialty involves surgery, additional precautions have always been required to provide a surgically clean environment throughout our facilities and even more often the maintenance of a surgically “sterile” environment in our operating rooms. While the current environment adds special precautions not required of us in the past, these additions to our protocol are not something with which we are not already familiar. The following are a list of best practices that have been put into place to address the additional risks we face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Office Maintenance
- Staff, Doctor, and Operating Room Attire
- Personal Hygiene
- CTMAX on Testing
- Expectations When Making an Appointment
- Arriving for Your Appointment
What We Are Doing to Make Your Appointment Safe?
Doctor and Staff Preparation for Elective Surgery
Unfortunately, several of our clinical staff required being put on “furlough” during the earlier covid lockdown period. We specifically elected not to “lay off” any of our existing staff team since many have been with us for years if not decades. They comprise a skilled team of individuals who we view as irreplaceable. Moreover, they are dedicated to the CTMAX culture and demonstrate every day that they share a common vision for quality healthcare. Our full clinical workforce was asked to return for work on Monday, May 4th. At that time, we began preparing our offices to see and treat a regular schedule of patients. We have been practicing and revising future patient interaction in each facility by simulating patient entry, patient treatment flows, and staff workflows. Our simulations are specifically targeting appropriate physical distancing, the proper use of PPE, sanitization protocols and patient communication in order to give you confidence that we are making every effort to create a safe environment for you as well as our staff.
- All our offices will continue to be cleaned every evening by our cleaning service but additional guidelines using a heightened attention to antiseptic techniques and CDC guidelines have been implemented.
- We have removed all printed materials from our waiting rooms and consultation rooms which may otherwise involve patient contact. Unless known to be clean and/or required, all paper materials have been properly disposed of.
- All points of egress within the offices including front door handles are wiped and sanitized at minimum once every hour and/or whenever it has been contacted by patients or staff.
- All surfaces such as our front desk areas, television remotes, etc., are sanitized when or if they experience patient or staff contact. Computer keyboards and other frequently contacted devices are covered with disposable plastic shields.
- Pens will continue to be provided for signatures on required paperwork and are given to the patient and/or disposed of after a single use.
- All waiting room surfaces including armchairs are sanitized and wiped down after each use.
All staff are required to wear face masks, surgical hats, and protective eyewear at all times. Face shields are required during surgical procedures. Gloves are always worn during surgical procedures but are also being worn at other times when deemed necessary.
All doctors wear scrub shirts and pants during the workday with the option of an additional lab coat. They are prohibited from leaving the office at any time in their work clothes. Additionally, doctors are required to wear face masks, surgical hats, and protective eyewear at all times. Face shields are required during surgical procedures. Gloves are being worn during surgical procedures but also at other times when deemed necessary.
Operating Room Attire:
Gowns are always worn by both doctors and staff during surgical procedures in addition to the appropriate operating room personal protective equipment (PPE) as previously outlined.
All staff and doctors have been trained in proper handwashing not only prior to surgery but also for personal protection. Unfortunately, personal contact and customary greetings such as handshaking is not permitted at this time.
All staff and doctors have their temperature taken and recorded upon their arrival to each office at the beginning of the workday. If a staff member or doctor has an elevated temperature on their arrival to work, they will be asked to leave for the day. Additionally, if a staff member or doctor believes that they are not feeling well at any time during the workday they will have their temperature taken and, when appropriate, will leave the office for the rest of the day. If discharged from the office unexpectedly as noted, the staff member and/or doctor will be monitored over subsequent days and sent for COVID-19 testing if their symptoms fall within the indications for testing as outlined by the CDC. Any staff member or doctor who is not feeling well on the morning prior to starting their workday will be asked to stay home, monitored, and only return when their condition normalizes.
At a time when “reliable” rapid testing becomes available to us, doctors and staff members will be tested prophylactically to ensure that they remain virus free when presenting to the office for work. The indications for and/or the availability of testing is a fluid situation and is subject to change as additional recommendations become available.
Expectations Related to Making and Arriving for Your Appointment.
What Should You Expect When Making an Appointment?
We have had to implement several changes in our protocol for patients scheduling appointments. These changes have been thoughtfully implemented and are in keeping with recommendations provided to us by the ADA(1), CSDA(2), CSOMS(3), OSHA(4) and CDC(5). These changes are specifically designed to ensure your safety and comfort during your visit with us.
- All patients entering our offices will be required to have an appointment. Please call our office as soon as you recognize you are planning a visit with us.
- All appointments will be appropriately scheduled to minimize waiting room times, needless traffic in our office doorways, waiting rooms, reception areas, and clinical areas.
- Our receptionists will do their very best to prepare you for what to expect during your visit with us. In addition, they are required to ask you a few questions that typically have not been required of you in the past.
a list of COVID specific questions that will be asked of you for screening purposes.
- Once you have obtained an appointment, we will forward to you via email and or U.S. mail, a confirmation of your appointment that will direct you to locations on our website to obtain additional information. Please avail yourself of these locations to become more informed about how we are preparing for your visit, how you can pre-register with us and obtain additional information about your consultation or procedure.
- We strongly encourage you to pre-register and complete the paperwork for your visit online. When submitted online, your personal information is delivered fully secure and is encrypted for your protection but in a format that is directly compatible with our office system saving time and reducing errors. If you feel uncomfortable about using our online history form, please contact us, and we will either send your pre-visit paperwork to you in the mail or gladly email it to you in a PDF document. The documents can be returned to us either through our secure, encrypted online document folder, or printed, scanned and forwarded to our office email address or given to us upon your arrival.
- All appointments will accommodate the patient and only a single escort. Additional family members or persons accompanying the patient will politely be asked to wait in their vehicle.
- Most importantly, please do not hesitate to ask our reception staff questions or discuss with them any concerns that you may have about your appointment. Your conversations with our staff are confidential.
1 American Dental Association
2 Connecticut State Dental Association
3 Connecticut Society of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
4 Occupational Safety and Health Administration
5 Centers for Disease Control
We understand that your appointment with us may look different than previous experiences you may have had with us. We do not believe any of our changes will be difficult for you and they have been implemented for your comfort and safety.
- As a courtesy to others with appointments, please try and be on time for your appointment. We have purposefully allotted time for everyone’s appointment to avoid needless waiting room traffic and provide adequate time for the sanitization of patient contact points. However, it is possible that a patient treatment could unexpectedly run longer than anticipated. In that event, we will attempt to notify you by cellphone of the delay. Alternatively, it is possible that upon your arrival you will be asked to wait in your vehicle until the patient before you has been discharged or the flow of traffic permits the required social distancing and sanitization standards that are needed for safety.
- In accordance with the recommendations of the Governor and CT Department of Public Health, you must wear a mask and have your mask properly applied before entering our facility. If you do not have a mask, we will provide you with one and ask that you and any escort accompanying you apply a mask. Those patients who refuse to wear a mask will politely be asked to leave the office. If you have a medical condition preventing you from using a mask, please bring that to the attention of our reception staff, preferably in advance of your appointment. Children under two years of age are not required to wear a mask.
- When entering our facility, you will be greeted by our reception staff with a smile under her mask. Unfortunately, customary greetings such as handshaking are not permitted. The receptionist is required to ask a set of familiar screening questions that you were previously asked when making your appointment.
- To follow, our clinical staff is required to take your temperature along with any escort that may accompany you. This information will be entered into your medical record. If, for some reason, your temperature is shown to be elevated, the doctor in residence will be notified and he/she will ask you additional questions to provide a more thorough evaluation in advance of proceeding with treatment.
- Finally, our staff will ask you to please use hand sanitizer that will be provided for you. She will then either direct you to a comfortable seat in our waiting room, or you will be taken directly into our treatment area. All waiting room chairs are properly distanced and between use by patients and/or escorts, they will have been thoroughly sanitized before your arrival. If preferred, escorts are welcome to wait in their vehicle, and we will call your cellphone when the patient is ready to be discharged.
- Our restroom facilities are sanitized and wiped down by our staff after each use in offices where the restroom is within our office. If you need to use the restroom, please notify us. You will be asked to use hand sanitizer again, that we will provide, when exiting the restroom.