This is a strange and scary time for everyone.
As we navigate through our new COVID-19 centered virtual world, it’s comforting to know that we’re going through this together.
Although most of us are shut down and only seeing emergency patients, there are a few crucial things we must do in preparation for our doors to reopen.
These steps will help ensure your practice survives the pandemic and comes out stronger on the other side.
1. Let your dream team know they’re champions
Keep in touch with your staff while you’re apart.
Have Zoom meetings. Use this time to train your team through webinars or dental office courses, or send them motivational books to read.
Let them know that you understand their struggles and fears and that you’re there for them.
Make them aware of their options and ensure they know what they are entitled to as outlined in the employee manual.
For many, filing for unemployment will be the best option so that employees can get paid while waiting for the office to reopen.
Provide them with as much instruction and information as possible to assist them in doing this.
It may take weeks to get any payment.
What can you do in the meantime to sustain your employees?
Don’t let them forget you care. Your employees are the cornerstone for surviving the pandemic.
2. Offer teledentistry
During this time of crisis, it’s now an option to provide telemedicine in most areas without specialized equipment.
It is still expected that the dentist will, in every way possible, provide an environment of privacy.
HHS has given examples of technology platforms that are considered acceptable for the time being, which include but are not limited to Smartphones (voice or text,) Apple FaceTime, & Skype.
However, public social media platforms are not acceptable. Learn more from the HHS Telehealth during COVID-19 crisis FAQ document…Opens in a new window to the HHS document….
3. Stress infection control
Stress the safety of your patients and team.
Send out an email video showing your patients what you’re doing as the office moves forward to assure their safety.
This could include measures such as:
- To maintain social distancing, require that patients sit at least six feet apart.
- Remove magazines and toys from the waiting room.
- If possible, come up with a system that will allow patients to call or text when they arrive and have their assistant or hygienist greet them at the door or by their car, and then move them promptly to a treatment room.
- Disinfect the waiting room, break room, and all “touchy” surfaces hourly.
- Utilizing N95 masks and face shields. Remember, droplets and aerosolized saliva and/or blood are infectious.
For more information, check out the ADA Interim Guidance for Minimizing Risk of COVID-19 Transmission…Opens in a new window to the ADA guide… with three flowcharts that may be helpful.
4. Dental office managers – stay informed and give yourself breaks!
Things are changing daily.
The ADA and your state’s Dental board are great resources to have on hand.
While half of the country is catching up on gardening and home projects, you’re live streaming webinars, consulting with your accountant, dissecting the CARES Act, applying for SBA loans, and stalking AADOM’s Facebook page from dusk ’til dawn.
Then you’re logging on to your state’s unemployment website at 3:30 am to make sure your staff gets paid because it’s the only time you can get through.
Remember, this too will pass.
Even superhuman dental office managers need breaks and sleep. Breathe.
Surviving the pandemic won’t be possible if you don’t take care of yourself first.
5. Lead with empathy
As you begin to return to the office, you may find some of your patients (and even team members) have been through unthinkable hardships.
They will be scared, and they will need to feel heard.
You, your doctors, and staff must out-listen the competition. Use active listening skills to hear their concerns and ask questions.
This kind of care will mean more to them than your top-of-the-line technologies and the perfect marginal fit of their new crown.
And don’t give up on your charitable dentistry. People will need it more than ever.
We are not alone. We will all help each other get through this.
Meet the Author
Jessie is Business Team Lead at Wainright & Wassel DDS. She was welcomed into the world of AADOM by her Practice Administrator Debbie Evans, who is a founding member and Co-President of the AADOM Triangle Area Chapter…Opens in a new window to AADOM Triangle Area page…, where Jessie serves as a board member. She achieved her FAADOM in 2019 and is excited to continue growing and learning along with her tribe. Jessie lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband, two daughters, and dog, Brutus.