What to Do When Your Entire State Closes
It may sound outlandish, but the entire state of Texas closed because of severe weather for over a week due to a once-in-a-lifetime “arctic blast”. The power grid and water systems simply weren’t designed to withstand sub-freezing temperatures for days on end. Our office was shut down for ten days. Some offices were closed for a few weeks due to broken pipes, flooding, no water, or no power.
When patients started to cancel and ice started to fall from the sky, all I could think about was “what do I do?” First, I took a deep breath, then sat down with my doctor and started a list. You can only do one thing at time, but remember: you have trained your staff. USE them.
I know that emergency shut-downs rarely happen, but it’s a good idea to have a check list to get you through one. I broke this situation up into 3 stages: 1- Before Closure: 2- During Closure: 3- Reopening.
- Change your non-answer/busy message to “We Are Currently Closed”.
- Call or text patients to cancel all appointments that will be affected by the closure.
- Use your staff /admin and clinical if needed.
- Walk through the office with your Doctor and lead RDA to make sure everything is turned off.
- Water lines are turned off; X-ray units off; vacuum lines drained, etc.
- Turn off computers and servers; make sure electrical equipment is not on the floor.
- If a freeze, make sure to drip faucets and leave the heat is on.
- Put up a sign on the front door that states your office is closed and who to contact in case of an emergency.
- Make sure you can log on to your patient web-based contact site (i.e., Weave; Dentrix Hub.)
- If you do not have a web-based site, print out the next weeks of schedules with patient’s home and cell phone numbers, just in case.
- Check messages: let your patients know this is temporary.
- If you have a patient contact site, USE IT.
- If you or one of the staff can SAFELY travel, check on the office.
- Turn off water if there is leak.
- Turn up the heat if needed.
- Keep your staff informed.
- Make sure you take care of yourself and your family.
Opening Back Up
- Check with your management or owner to make sure you can open. Make sure you have water and power!
- Do a walk through with your doctor before anyone comes in.
- Run water lines, vacuum, compressor, etc.
- Change your non-answer/busy message to indicate that your office is open.
- Be patient with your patients and staff. Everyone has been through an ordeal.
I will say the most important thing I was reminded of through this whole learning process was that I have a great doctor, fantastic staff, and the patience of my wonderful husband. Remember you are not alone and do not need to shoulder the load. Between our team and the AADOM community, we were able to make it through this. If you would like a full check list, please send an email to me at email@example.com.
Meet the Author
Jennifer is a former U.S. Army medic and has over 25 years of experiences in the administrative field. She received her MAADOM in 2020 and took on a two-year commitment as president of the Austin AADOM Chapter. When Jenn has spare time, you can usually find her working with metals and creating art pieces in her home studio, 3doggsdesigns.