Updated March 26, 2020 5:00 PM
- COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has now spread globally.
- While anyone can be infected, most people experience mild symptoms and do not need to go to the hospital.
- Symptoms are fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
- People most at risk for severe disease are older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart disease.
- Multiple cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Kansas
- Sedgwick County Health Department is closely monitoring this issue and is coordinating with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
- We anticipate more cases of COVID-19 in Sedgwick County in the coming days or weeks.
What Steps Can We Take to Protect our Dental Practice?
**American Dental Association recommends dentists postpone elective procedures for 3 weeks**
You can take steps right now that can help protect your dental practice. Many of these strategies are the same strategies used every day to prevent the spread of common colds, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses. Build on your everyday practices to implement these strategies.
Infection Control During Check-In
- Post signs at the entrance asking people not to enter if they have symptoms of respiratory infection. Reschedule appointments after the patient recovers. A patient should be fever free for at least 24 hours without using any fever reducing medications.
- Evaluate patients with detailed questions prior to treatment about flu-like symptoms, travel abroad for self and family/friends, and use a thermometer to take their temperature. Check KDHE self-quarantine guidelines to determine which patients without symptoms should be rescheduled.
- Post signs throughout the facility, encouraging hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette (cover your cough and sneeze), and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands. Post materials in the languages used by the populations you serve. Print materials are available here on the CDC website or from the Sedgwick County Health Department
- Have fact sheets available for patients
- Regularly clean and disinfect counters, waiting areas, and other high-touch surfaces in public areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Clean at least every hour or after every 10 patients, whichever is more frequent.
- Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer next to the checkout window so people can sanitize their hands after using common items, like the pens used to sign-in.
- Keep pens for clients separate from your own and clean them daily.
- Remove magazines, toys, etc. from waiting area to prevent contamination.
- Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer at all entry points and key points in the dental office.
- Consider ways to limit waiting room time by staggering appointments or asking patients to wait in cars until called.
Infection Control During Service
- Ensure staff are using personal protective equipment properly.
- Ensure staff are washing hands properly.
- Use rubber dam isolation and high volume suction to limit aerosols during procedures.
- Use a 1% hydrogen peroxide rinse prior to examination of the oral cavity by the patient to reduce microbial load.
- Ensure proper sterilization practices for all equipment exceed industry standards.
Business Continuity of Operations Plans
- The American Dental Association recommends dentists postpone elective appointments for three weeks as soon as logistically possible. Concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments.
- Develop or review business continuity plans for how to keep critical services going if staffing levels drop due to illness or taking care of ill family members or friends or children that may be temporarily out of child care or school settings.
- Be prepared to change your practices as needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., prioritize clients or temporarily suspend some services if needed).
- Ensure you have adequate supplies of soap, paper towels, tissues, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and garbage bags. If possible, a supply of disposable gloves and paper facemasks may be useful if persons become ill while at your facility.
- You can find more information on organizational preparedness on the CDC website
Prepare Staff, Volunteers, and Clients
- Ensure sick leave and other polices are in place to support staff to stay home if needed. Do not require a healthcare provider’s note as this will put more stress on the providers’ offices.
- Share information on continuity planning with staff and volunteers.
- Create a cleaning schedule so staff are regularly disinfecting touched surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, bathroom fixtures, countertops, work stations, tables, and chairs.
- Staff should monitor Sedgwick County Health Department and KDHE websites (see online resources below) to understand COVID – 19 activity in their community.
- Sign up for Clinical Outreach and Communication Activity Updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with upcoming guidelines for dental practices.
- Report unusual patient complaints, surges in symptoms of fever, cough, or respiratory distress to the Sedgwick County Health Department at 316-660-7300.