We Miss Our Patients
I have been a dentist for the last 30 years since I graduated from University of Toronto. During the last 30 years, I have gone through and survived the periods with HIV, SARS and MERS. This Coronavirus is the worse ever that has cost us many lives and counting. It also has been causing so much economic turmoil around the globe and will be leaving lasting impact on the way we behave in the future, long after this pandemic is over. It is going to have tremendous influence on dental practices in North America for years to come.
From the beginning of the lockdown in Ontario in response to COVID-19, Affinity Dental Care has been open for dental emergencies only. The Ontario dentists governing body, Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, has provided us strong recommendation not to provide non-urgent dental care to patients. Because of this strong recommendation, we at Affinity Dental Care, with our beliefs in strong moral and social responsibility, have supported the initiative to fight the coronavirus by not providing any dental treatments like teeth cleaning and scaling, fillings of non-painful cavities, cosmetic bonding, placing implants and crowns etc.
Currently, I am eager to go back to my normal routine to see my patients to provide them for their dental needs.
For the past month and a half, I have been emailing and calling my patients personally to ask them how they and their families been keeping well during this crisis and to explain to them why I rescheduled their appointments to the future dates. During the conversations, some patients were concerning about my health risk and financial position under the circumstances. Their concerns of me made me felt so humbled and honoured to be their family dentist!
Financially, I am very sound because I have practiced dentistry for 30 years before I started this Burlington dental practice, Affinity Dental Care, about a year ago – it has been a small boutique dental clinic with a small staff and a small payroll, and because of my many years in dentistry, I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase the building for my dental clinic. So, I do not have to worry about the rent payments.
I have been channelling my time and energy on rewriting and improving my office manuals to meet the new post-COVID era with more stringent infection and prevention control protocols, I also improve the office management procedures and policies that will help to protect our staff and patients from any infectious diseases and streamline the operation. Standardizations are also important for staff training, improving efficiencies and reduction in errors.
Meanwhile, I worry about my patients’ mental and physical health during the lockdown. During my phone conversations with my patients, most of them are doing well under the circumstances.
Despite the Ontario government opening up some businesses starting on May 4, the dental offices are not in the list. However, I do see that there are reasonable grounds for the dental offices to be allowed to open up in a few weeks. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have allowed dental offices to be reopened on May 4 and they would provide me with some good ideas on the challenges and protocols that the offices will be facing and how they are going to adapt. This will provide me with a good framework and idea for how to restart my practice in a safe, healthy, and happy environment. One thing that is for sure is that the new normal for dentistry will be very different from the pre-COVID time. The new standard will include enhanced personal protective equipment, new devices and equipment to keep the air clean, new disinfectant to keep working areas free of virulence, upkeeping the adequate physical distance between people in the dental clinic and modified protocols to allow adequate time to clean and disinfect the treatment areas before the next patient. All those measures will be implemented on top of our already up-to-date infection prevention and control policies.
Providing our patients with wellness dentistry is one of Affinity Dental Care’s main philosophy. We have procured the proper equipment and devices to meet the new challenges. I will be talking about my enhanced procedures and requirements in my next blog. I just can’t wait to see my patients again to provide them with their needed dental treatments which have been postponed for so long. Some of them are going to have implants placed after the extractions, some are about to start the orthodontic treatment, some are in the middle of the clear aligner treatment. When I called my patients up to reschedule their appointments, some patients worried about if the delay would affect the success of treatments. I reassured them that the outcome would be as good if the delay is not going to be too long. It looks like that we are winning this battle against this pandemic in Canada and Ontario dentists will be able to see their patients soon!