Our community has been through a lot over the last few months and all of us are looking forward to getting back to what will be our new normal. As we make our way toward this many things will have changed to accommodate the current situation, I can assure you one thing has remained the same: our commitment to your safety.
Infection control has always been a top priority for us. Our infection control procedures are designed so that when you receive care, it is safe for both you and our healthcare team. Our office follows the infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Due to Covid-19 you will see significant changes when it is time for your next appointment. We made these changes to help better protect you and our staff. For example:
· Cathi will communicate will you beforehand to ask some prescreening questions. Please make sure you return any calls from our office promptly. If we cannot prescreen you 48 hours before your appointment it will be rescheduled. We do not like doing this because everyone’s time is valuable.
· When you arrive for your appointment please call us at 881-3881 BEFORE ENTERING the office. You may be asked to wait in your vehicle (weather permitting-it’s getting hot now) until we are ready to see you. We will do our best to allow greater time between patients to reduce/eliminate waiting times.
· You will be asked the same questions again after you enter. Your temperature will also be taken. Anyone that reports a positive answer or has a temperature above 100.4 (CDC recommended) will not be seen until a negative Covid-19 status is determined.
· You will need to wear a face mask while in the office and use hand sanitizer when you enter. We have Hand Sanitizer available for you.
· We have removed some seating from our reception area to promote social distancing. This means there are fewer places to sit. Please note that we are asking that only the patient (and parent) enter the office. Anyone accompanying you will need to wait in the vehicle unless prior arrangements are made so that we can manage traffic flow appropriately.
· Our counters are free of magazines and literature. There will not be any toys in the reception area as all of those items are difficult to clean and disinfect.
· We have set up a sneeze guard at the front desk and have tissue available for you to use.
· Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients. This may mean that there are fewer options available for scheduling your appointments at this time.
· We are running special Air Purifiers now to help remove bacteria and viral organisms.
· Our Personal Protective Equipment has changed quite a bit as you will see. We are now wearing surgeons’ caps, N95 respirators in aerosol generating procedures, Double Surgical ASTM Level 3 masks in nonaerosol generating procedures, scrub jackets which we change between every patient, over gowns when necessary and face shields.
· We have set up special donning (getting dressed) and doffing (removing PPE) areas that employ UV sterilization techniques and other methods to decontaminate essential and scare PPE.
· We have instituted a more frequent daily schedule to decontaminate all nonclinical areas several times each day. This includes things like door handles, furniture, countertops and restrooms.
As always I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we are taking to keep you and every patient safe in our practice. Thank you, again, we appreciate you and your patience as we begin this new journey.
Valerie Wroblewski, DDS
I hope this letter finds you in good health. You have probably heard by now that dental offices have been given permission to reopen!! While we are extremely grateful for this news, what you didn’t hear are the guidelines that we have to follow when we do. We are required to have a two week supply of all of our personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand prior to opening. We have always used masks and gloves but now these requirements have been enhanced to include special equipment and protocols. These items are extremely difficult to obtain but I have been working on it since we closed. The personal protective equipment supply and other infection control materials are in very short supply and receiving them is taking much longer than expected. I do not want to rush into opening the office but rather make sure everything is in place to protect us all. I am pleased to let you know that if all goes as planned we will be opening the office on Tuesday, May 26th.
There are some changes that have been made to my office that will look very different but they are necessary for your protection as well as for ours.
For those of you that had appointments cancelled during the closure please know that Cathi has kept close track of these appointments and will be contacting you to reschedule your treatments as quickly as possible. Please understand that she will be rescheduling patients by priority. In Hygiene, the first patients to be rescheduled will be those that need to be seen to maintain a chronic periodontal disease state. These patients should be seen as soon as possible to make sure they maintain their dental health which supports their overall systemic health and immune system. Secondly will be all the patients in the order they were taken off the schedule. First appointments with me will be for those patients that have been waiting for care that did not constitute an emergency during the shutdown but should be handled as soon as possible. I appreciate your patience and understanding as she works to get everyone rescheduled. Keep in mind that because there are a lot of people to reschedule and we must allow for extended infection control times and maintain social distancing between patients that will mean there are fewer options available for appointments.
Within the next few days Cathi will be posting information highlighting some of the updates you will see and changes you will need to be aware of when you come in for your next dental appointment. Thank you for being part of our dental family. We value you and your loyalty and look forward to seeing you.
Valerie Wroblewski DDS
I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you to let you know we are still waiting in the midst of this latest stay at home order for any indication of when we may be able to start taking care of your dental needs again.
The New Mexico Dental Association has created a Dental Advisory Team to assist the administration with acceptable guidelines to allow dental practices to “gradually resume operations in compliance with guidelines provided by the New Mexico Department of Health.” Everyone is awaiting a response on that at this time.
My staff and I are healthy, staying in communication with one another and looking forward to the time we can get back into the office and see all of you again. Until then, stay home, stay healthy and PLEASE, if you have ANY concerns about your dental health DO NOT HESITATE to contact me. You can do this by calling the office and pressing option 4. It will direct you on the appropriate way to reach me.
The New Mexico Dental Association sent a letter date April 2, 2020 to all licensed New Mexico dentists that stated in part:
"Late last evening the ADA approved a number of interim guidance documents and recommendations as they focus on how dentistry will move forward during and following the current restrictions. It is important to note that these guidelines are based on emerging science as it is becoming evident through the ongoing pandemic. As such, these documents are formulated to be revised and the ADA is providing them as interim guidance because dentists need to continue to see urgent and emergent dental problems and prepare for practice when the restrictions are lifted.
The ADA’s recommendation to restrict treatment to urgent and emergent problems has, not unexpectedly, been extended to April 30, acknowledging that local and national orders will take precedence. Governor Lujan Grisham has already indicated that will also be her likely order. This is based on increasing evidence that “silent” spread of the virus by individuals showing no signs or symptoms is more widespread than first believed, questions about whether “universal precautions” are protective in the dental environment, and the lack of adequate PPE for dental practices in the face of a widespread shortage."
In addition, today, our Governor extended the ‘Stay at home’ order to April 30, 2020.
It is important to me that you be kept informed of what I am doing to keep myself, my staff and you safe in the midst of this pandemic. We are all sheltering in place and staying in touch via telecommunication. We hope to be back in the office May 1st but for now my office remains closed. However, if you have an emergent dental situation, PLEASE reach out to me by calling the office at 881-3881 choosing option 4 when prompted and you will be given instructions on how to reach me. Please call even if you are not sure that what you are experiencing is a situation that would be acceptable according to the recent treatment guidelines. We can decide together how best to handle your situation.
If you have an appointment scheduled in the month of April please consider it cancelled even if Cathi has not been able to reach you directly.
Take care everyone, be safe.
Valerie Wroblewski DDS
At my office we understand that COVID-19 is worrisome and confusing. I want to provide you with an update to reassure you that the health and safety of our patients, staff and family has always and will always remain our top priority.
My office has always and will always continue to use the CDC’s recommended infection control protocols for health care facilities as well as the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves, masks and eyewear for all employees. We have always protected you at every appointment from bacteria, fungi and viruses like HIV, Influenza, Rhinoviruses (colds), Hepatitis A, B, and C as well as others.
We have always used extensive hand washing protocols with surgical grade hand soap. We have always and will continue to use steam autoclaves (hospital grade) to sterilize our instruments. We use hospital grade cold sterilization baths for all items that cannot withstand the heat of an autoclave. All staff members receive extensive infection control training annually with immediate updates as needed.
Our goal has always been to keep you protected and healthy. Now we ask that you do the same for us. If you are experiencing an elevated temperature or respiratory issues (such as shortness of breath or coughing – not related to allergies) or if you have traveled to a highly COVID-19 infected area within the past 14 days, please consider rescheduling your appointment for a later date. If you are unsure how to proceed please call our office to discuss your visit.
For now our office hours will remain the same. If there is a change, we will work to immediately notify and re-schedule patient appointments. Information and updates will be communicated via Facebook, email and via telephone to those who are on the schedule. If you have any questions or concerns please call our office at (505) 881-3881.
The CDC, at this time, says the risk for Americans is low. I believe it is as well, but we will continue to protect you from EVERYTHING just as we have always done.
To Your Health,
Valerie Wroblewski, DDS