SDS Post COVID-19
Return to work update for our patients
As with most of the country, we have been on pause. In order to play our part in keeping you and our community safe during these unprecedented times, we made the difficult decision to close our practice on 19th March, a few days ahead of formal guidance from Public Health England and NHS England.
We want to express our gratitude for your patience and resolve. We know that for some of you, who were either mid-treatment or have experienced dental difficulties, it is a very frustrating and challenging time. We are sorry you are going through this journey, but we are with you, the best way we can. During this period, some of you have contacted us for advice and we have tried our best to help as much as we could, including through video consultations.
We are pleased to have received clear directions from the authorities regarding the re-opening of dental practices. Specialist Dental services will be reopening for face to face sessions from Monday 8th June 2020. Our planning and preparation mean we are now ready to welcome you back to SDS with enhanced safety measures in place. In the meantime, we wanted to see how you are doing and keep you up to date.
What have we been up to during the lockdown?
The team at Specialist Dental Services have been very active during the lockdown period, and most of our clinicians have been working at several NHS hospitals during this period. Our clinicians have also been busy authoring national guidelines related to dentistry and getting hands-on with the manufacturing of PPE for our NHS frontline staff during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Professor Shakeel Shahdad has been leading the design and production of appropriate visors that have been manufactured by 3D printing and injection moulding. Tens of thousands have already been distributed to numerous NHS hospitals across the country including The Nightingale Hospital in London, GP surgeries and care homes. You can see how it looks on the Evening Standard and the Dentistry.co.uk
Professor Paul Coulthard has been assessing the risk of COVID-19 related to dentistry, keeping in (a safe distance) touch with our colleagues internationally, including Wuhan. He has published national guidelines, through his role as President of the British Society of Oral Surgery, advising the best way to approach dentistry during these times. These publications can be accessed on The Lancet and the British Dental Journal. As Dean of the Dental School at Queen Marys University of London & Royal London Hospital, Paul is very active in managing the response and the safety of the patients and students involved.
Dr Charlotte Stilwell in her role as President-elect of the ITI International Team for Implantology has been leading an international COVID-19 information resource for dental professionals.
We are extremely proud of the contributions made by the team during this challenging period.
What have we been preparing for you?
We are fortunate to have members in our team who are at the forefront of leading the national guidelines, ensuring you are safe too. Our policy has been formulated based on national and international recommendations and guidelines, most notably from Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and China. This experience leaves us in a strong position to generate a policy for SDS and be prepared to see patients immediately after the restriction on dentistry outside hospitals is relaxed by the government.
What new measures is SDS taking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission?
We have always maintained very high standards of cross-infection control in our practice which have been inspected and approved by the Healthcare Regulator - Care Quality Commission (CQC). Nevertheless, these measures will be further augmented in light of the latest guidance related to COVID-19. Some of these changes will be clearly visible and may seem very familiar to what you have seen lately in the media as well.
In preparation for the resumption of dentistry at SDS, we are already implementing changes and procuring necessary equipment, instruments and materials to keep our patients and staff safe while providing effective and the highest quality treatment to our patients.
We will soon contact all patients in stages and prioritise appointments based on the urgency of dental treatment and will have to adhere to the government guidelines on what constitutes an emergency. In the first instance, we will organise appointments for those who have informed us of any dental emergency during the lockdown. Subsequently, we will prioritise patients who have ongoing treatments before we can resume business as usual.
All patients will be requested to update their medical history form. This is an obligatory requirement, and we would kindly request your full cooperation. Before your appointment at SDS, the clinician will call you and carry out a telephone consultation to ascertain your clinical need, and this will allow us to prepare the clinic in advance.
We will follow this up with an email confirming your appointment, proposed treatment plan and associated fees. In order to minimise unnecessary contact with our reception team and credit card terminals, we would request payment in advance via BACS or, credit or debit card by calling us over the phone. The email will also outline what to expect on the day and inform you of the safety measures that we have undertaken.
Prior telephone consultation will allow us thorough planning so that you are least inconvenienced on the day of your appointment and minimise waiting times. Appointments will be staggered with 30 minute gaps between patients to avoid the crossover of patients and allow sufficient time for additional COVID-19 disinfection measures between patients.
On the day of your appointment, you should not wear any hand or arm jewellery. We recommend that you wear a face mask for your travel to the practice. Remember to only handle the mask by its ties or ear loops and avoid touching the front of the mask itself. You should consider carrying some drinking water with you. Regretfully, during this period, we will not be offering any refreshments to our patients. We would also highly recommend that you visit the practice alone unless accompanying a child or, a dependent patient.
On your arrival, please keep the face mask on and use the hand sanitiser available immediately as you enter our front door. The reception staff will measure your body temperature using an infra-red contactless thermometer. If your temperature is above 37.8oC, you will be sadly asked to return home immediately and self-isolate as per the Public Health England guidance.
If your temperature is normal, we will guide you straight to the surgery upstairs to avoid the use of our waiting room. In case we are not ready for you, you will be seated in our large waiting room. To maintain social distancing, we will be limiting the number of chairs for seating purposes.
In the clinic, you will find us waiting for you and the clinical staff will be wearing extra personal protection equipment (PPE) during your appointment. Therefore, we may not be able to greet you as warmly as we would have done in the past, but underneath the facade we are still the same caring and bubbly team. The level of PPE will depend upon the treatment you require and another reason why pre-appointment telephone consultation is necessary. You will be asked to wash your hands with warm soapy water or, use a hand sanitiser for 20 seconds, and rinse your mouth with H202 1.5% mouth rinse for 1 minute before being seated in the dental chair.
To maintain the highest possible standards of safety for our patients and staff, we have imported special suction devices which remove the extra-oral aerosol generated during dental procedures. This will significantly enhance our ability to eliminate the high-risk aerosol, which is the biggest threat of COVID-19 transmission in dental practices. In combination with the appropriate fluid repellent gowns, high filtration masks, and face visors specially designed by Prof. Shahdad, we are confident to resume dentistry for you in a very safe environment.
After completion of treatment, we will make your future appointment in the surgery so that you can avoid having to go to the office. We will request that you complete any outstanding balances over the phone after your appointment. Invoices and receipts will be emailed to you as we endeavour to remain paper-free during this period.
Every surgery will be thoroughly disinfected and left vacant for 30 minutes before the next patient. All common areas, including door handles and surfaces, will also be disinfected between patients. As a result of all these measures, it will take longer to complete treatment sessions in comparison to your previous experience. However, it is imperative to ensure that everyone is kept safe while at SDS.
During your visit, if you need to use the restroom, kindly inform the member of staff on reception so that disinfection can be carried out in our toilets.
We enjoy what we do, and we love hearing about how things are with you. Unfortunately, during this time, we may not be able to interact as freely like before. So, we want to apologise beforehand for the reduction in social interaction that this pandemic will necessitate. Please be assured that our duty of care and safety to you is our priority. And remember we are still your friendly team, the same ones as before, we wouldn’t change that at all, so we will always be smiling behind our costumes.
In case you have any questions about this policy, kindly do not hesitate to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to seeing you very soon
Best wishes from,
The SDS team