LATEST UPDATE- 18 of July 2020.
The last few months have been a very strange and worrying time for all of us. It was incredibly frustrating to have to close our doors at the end of March.
During the time we were closed we were always available to answer calls, emails and messages. The phone was redirected to our home phone. Liverpool Dental Hospital was set up as an Urgent Dental Hub but unfortunately were able to provide an extraction only service. We are grateful to our friends and staff at the Dental hospital for taking such good care of the few patients of ours who had to go there.
We discovered that Dental practices could re-open on the 8th of June whilst watching the BBC News on the 28th of May. We had been given no official guidance prior to this and the official guidance was actually only released on the 4th of June, giving us around 2 working days to get the practice ready.
However, whilst the practice was closed we worked tirelessly to locate the available PPE (Respirator masks, gowns, aprons, gloves, hats) which we anticipated would be required on our return, along with triaging patient needs (including many patients who were not registered with a Dental Practice), delivering prescriptions to patients, providing PPE locally, providing toothpaste to a local hospice, sending out colouring packs for many of our younger patients, looking after our families (Emma's Mum and Dad, and Dave's Mum) and home schooling with Heidi (9) and Daisy (6)!
We were one of the 30% of Dental Practices in England to re-open our doors for limited services on the 8th of June and have been working through the patients initially with problems during lockdown and now for patients who have had outstanding treatment which if potentially left, would cause further problems.
During this time we are still waiting on further guidance regarding restrictions which have been put in place and although we were promised this a few weeks ago, we have been now told it will be at least another 4 - 5 weeks. We obviously have to ensure patient and staff safety, and therefore social distancing (keeping the waiting area number reduced to one where possible) is an issue. The other, and possibly main problem we face, is one of 'fallow time'. This refers to the period of time when the surgery has to be left empty after we have used a high speed drill with water or the ultrasonic scaling unit. Currently we have to wait AN HOUR from the moment we stop drilling before the surgery can be cleaned ready for the next patient. We appear to be the only country in the world where this is the case but we obviously have to follow the guidance. Many countries are leaving a 15 - 20minute space between appointments. We are hoping for an up date on this in the near future. This hour wait makes juggling our appointments incredibly difficult and in particular makes scaling and polishing visits with an ultrasonic cleaner almost impossible. Our wonderful therapist Abbey has been back recently to carry out some hand scaling but we appreciate this is not always suitable or acceptable in all cases. We are desperately trying to work out a solution to this. If you are waiting on an appointment with Abbey, please rest assured you are on our list to get this sorted as soon as we can.
I hope anyone who has come to the practice recently has felt safe and well looked after. We did have a member of staff from a local hospital who remarked that we were cleaner and 'more protected than a covid ward'. There have been numerous suggestions of protocols to follow and whilst we have read every protocol available we have also adopted a slice of common sense.
Here is what to expect:-
The front door remains closed so that people without an appointment can not just come in and fill the waiting room.
When you arrive for an appointment a doorbell is in place for you to let us know you are there. On occasions if a patient has arrived early we have either asked them to wait in their car or we have taken them through to the other surgery to wait.
As always we will ask you about your general health and also some questions specific to covid19. If you have any symptoms suggestive of Covid19 we would advise you to re-arrange your appointment. (We will also ask you some of these questions on the phone prior to making your appointment!)
Hand gel is available and advised to be used on entry to the practice.
Screens are up in the reception to shield the reception team.
We are not routinely taking patients temperature. The taking of a patients temperature is not recommended in the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners guidance despite what many people are doing. The issue with taking your temperature is that on reflection, it appears very unreliable and patients with a dental infection in urgent need of dental treatment may have an elevated temperature. It would be disastrous to turn those patients away. For a point of note, the Dental hospital stopped taking patients temperatures also due to this unreliability.
Patients are welcome to wear a mask to arrive...... but obviously you will have to remove it for us to look at your teeth!
We hope that contactless payment is feasible for you and are happy to accept Apple Pay also.
Please be aware that as Dentists we have been dealing with infection control for many years and we are already one of the most regulated professions. You will see we are still doing many of the safe things we have always done. You will also see some of the new temporary things we have to do. You will see the new respirator masks we have to wear, along with surgical gowns and face visors.
We have been made aware of many practices (and other business including hairdressers/barbers) who have increased their fees or added a set fee for the increased cost of PPE. Some of our PPE costs have risen by over 1000 % and not forgetting the reduced surgery hours due to the above mentioned 'fallow time'. However, in light of this we are all in this together and we have so far resisted the need to elevate our prices. It is hoped that this is a short term issue and we will always be as honest and as fair as possible with you.
Moving forward we are working through our lists of patients who have outstanding treatments and also through our patients who are on Practice Plan/Denplan.
Some patients have enquired about suspending their plan payments and if that is something you need to do then please do get straight in touch with us. We will do everything possible to make sure our plan members get all of their allocated appointments back even if it means getting them slightly closer together over the next 12 months. Please remember that the dental plans are an insurance based scheme so you will still be covered for dental emergencies and cover during this time. This is the reason plans were not immediate cancelled by the indemnifier. We can promise you we do not want you to miss out and we won't let that happen. We are so grateful for your continued support throughout this time.
If you contact the practice and get our answer phone during normal practice opening hours please note that WE ARE THERE, but unable to answer the phone at that time. It may be that we are seeing to patients or have reduced staff in on that day. Please follow the instructions and leave us a message if necessary.
Get in touch via email or facebook and we will always get back to you. (Just make sure you check 'Junk/spam' for an emailed reply!)
We will get to see you again soon, but until then please continue to be safe and know we are always here for you if you need us.
Dave, Emma and all of the team @ 183dental.