Well, here we are a year and a half into the pandemic. We have all learned a lot and have endured many difficult months. I believe we will continue to endure and learn for a while yet, but even with variants, vaccines and the unknown…things are returning to normal, or at least the new normal.
I want to reassure you that we continue to do all of the things we have always had in place to protect you, including the additional changes we have made since the beginning of the pandemic.
We remain diligent in our policies, protocols and procedures in order to protect the safety of our patients and ourselves. Current research continues to show the safety of dental care in offices such as ours. We remain consistent and confident in our efforts, and we monitor the expert advice of trusted scientific sources on a regular basis.
We encourage you to continue regular care here and practice good home care to do all you can to keep your teeth, and therefore your entire health in tip-top condition.
Please feel confident that we continue to put your safety and health first. When you enter the office you will still see the precautions, like spaced seating in the reception area, minimal surface contact and no magazines! Sorry, it isn’t how we would like. We are doing everything possible, so you can feel comfortable coming in. Masks are continuing to be required by the Mn. Dept. of health in health care facilities.
These are challenging times AND we are standing strong and ready to help you any way we can. We look forward to seeing you at your next scheduled visit with us.
Dr. Michael Gardner and Staff
We hope that this note finds you and your family in good health. I don’t know about you but I have watched as many webinars and Netflix as I can stand. As you may know Governor Walz issued an executive order 20-51 that allows the gradual reopening of dental offices. Our community has been through a lot. We are all looking forward to seeing you again and getting back to the work we love. While many things have changed, one of the things that never will change is our commitment to your safety.
Infection control in Dentistry has evolved rapidly over the years. We have always made it a priority to adhere to and exceed the standards of a safe environment. Your trust in us has always been the most rewarding aspect about practicing Dentistry. My team and I take great pride in that trust. To that end you will see that infection control at our office has been increased. We have established new preventive measures now based on research and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These guidelines are strictly followed along with direction from the Minnesota Board of Dentistry and Minnesota Department of Health. We closely monitor updates and changes in policy. As you know the battle against COVID19 changes frequently. We are committed to meeting and exceeding the most current guidelines.
While we are anxious to open, there are strict guidelines that we must follow for the foreseeable future. Some of these will be apparent when it is time for your next appointment. These changes have been made to protect you and our staff.
We ask that you please be patient with us as we all adapt to the changes. Understand that you are our number one priority and just like always, we will do everything we can to accommodate your scheduling needs. We know you are anxious to get back to our offices…so are we!
Some of the changes will be obvious, some will not. Here are some examples:
- Our office will communicate with you before appointments to ask some screening questions. You will be asked those questions again when you arrive at the office.
- We ask that all patients call when they arrive in our parking lot and remain in your vehicle.
- A staff member will come to you to repeat the screening, take your temperature (touchless) and then we will call you when it is time to come into the building. This will minimize the number of people in the office at the same time, therefore aiding in social distancing.
- Please wear a mask when coming to the office. If you do not have one, we will provide one.
- Hand sanitizer will be plentiful. We encourage you use it.
- The waiting room will appear bare. No magazines, toys or brochures. This is to make it easier to clean and disinfect.
- Appointments will be staggered as much as possible to keep traffic at the front desk to a minimum. Because of this we may need to shift appointments already scheduled.
- Some appointments may seem different. We need to reduce aerosols for the time being so that might mean that more hand scaling in hygiene for example, or an assistant may help the hygienist with suctioning.
- To further aid in aerosol management we have several new pieces of equipment. There will be a suction device that rests near your chin to suction away aerosols into a medical grade Hepa filter.
- The air exchanger in our clinic will be running at maximum capacity.
- The outer office and each treatment room will have air purifiers with True Hepa filters.
- Additionally, the office heating and air conditioning system has Ionic Photo-Oxidation sterilizing systems (being installed this week).
- Due to social distancing, please avoid bringing family members with you to appointments, however, parent accompanying a child is fine. If others do accompany you, please ask them to wait in the car
- You will see sneeze guards at the front desk.
Face shields, gowns, N95 masks, even head coverings will look strange. I recall in the 80s when I was the first dentist in Willmar to wear a mask and gloves. What once was strange is now expected. Many of the changes we are making will stick around as well. It is a good thing. On a personal note, I greatly appreciate your patience and understanding throughout these past 2 months. I cannot tell you how much I have missed my awesome staff, and the work I love. I have missed all of you too, and the conversations, the jokes and stories. I look forward to getting back to our practice and cannot wait to see you again. We are currently waiting for the last few pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE) to make our opening smooth and safe. We will also monitor our local spiking of positive COVID cases. As always, we will continue to see emergencies and urgent issues until we completely open to normal patient care. We currently estimate that to be in the next week or two.
Thank you, thank you for being our patients, friends and neighbors. We value your trust, and loyalty. It means more to my team and I than you might imagine. We cannot wait to welcome you back. Please call with any questions.
Mike Gardner and Staff