What dental professionals need to reopen your practice

by | May 5, 2020 | COVID-19, Dental Job, Dental Office, Employer advice, Hiring, Practice Advice, Temporary Hire | 0 comments

Dental professionals are eager to get back to work, but at the same time want to keep themselves and their families safe.  We’ve listened and assembled a list of tips based on what is being said by many of those working in the dental field.

What dental professionals need to reopen your practice.

#1 They need to know you have followed all the guidelines to keep them safe. 

Do you have all the PPE required to reopen?

The number 1 thing Dental Professionals have been saying is “if you don’t have enough PPE for you, your staff and patients, you do not have the ability to open up.”

Show your staff you have done the research on what is required by the CDC, OSHA, ADA and the CDA to keep them save.  Show them what is required and then show them the inventory of PPE that you have purchased for them.

Here the CDC provides an “interim” guide to current PPE needs in a medical practice.

Here is the CDC’s “interim” guide for Dental Practices.

OSHA’s interim guidelines for Dentists.

And, thankfully, the CDA gave us a straightforward checklist.

Now… I do believe a lot is going to change, but I would start finding and purchasing the basics now.

Here are a couple sites that sell PPE, should your current provider be limiting you or out of stock.

#2 They want to talk with you

If you haven’t already now is the time to reach out to your staff to work out a plan.

 I highly suggest you schedule one-on-one video calls with each one of your staff members.

You want to have an open and honest conversation about everything that is going on.  They need to know your plan and feel comfortable going back.  To make sure you have absolutely everything they need, find out answers to these questions.

  1. Are you and your family healthy?
  2. Would there be anything holding you back from starting work right away?
  3. Where have you been getting information in regards to COVID-19?
  4. What do you need from me to feel comfortable?  For example, what PPE and Protocols do they want to see in place before returning to work.
  5. If they cannot return, when can you expect them back?  Should you be looking for a permanent replacement or a temp in the meantime?

Try to keep the conversation warm and compassionate.  Depending on where they are getting their info they could be very scared about returning to work.  If they can’t give you an answer on when they plan to return, start getting your job(s) posted on DirectDental today.

#3 They need to know your strategy for preventing exposure to COVID-19

One of the biggest concerns your employees and patients are going to have is how are you going to keep this virus out of the office.  For starters, revamp your check in process.

Here are some basic tips I am hearing from dental offices and the ADA.

  1. Call 2 days before their appointment to check on their health.  Make sure they are feeling well.  Run through the patient check in form at this time and then AGAIN, when they come in.
  2. Have them call your office when they arrive. There is no need for them to sit in the reception area.
  3. Have a back office assistant*, greet them at the door to take their temperature with a head thermometer and run through the patient check-in form again.  If everything checks out, the assistant will escort the patient straight back to the opportatory.
  4. Your reception area should be bare.  Put away the coffee machine and throw out all the magazines and brochures.  Your front office area should not have anything that people mindlessly touch available.
  5. Once treatment is complete, have the front office relay the amount due to the back office and have the assistant or hygienist collect payment and schedule their next appointment.  We do this to contain germs to the steril back office.
  6. Have the same assistant that walked them in, walk them out.  Wipe down EVERYTHING after EVERY appointment.
  7. Have hand sanitizer everywhere.  And rather than giving out toothbrushes (most people use electronic devices now) have masks and pens made.  If they need to sign something, let them keep the pen, and if they forgot their mask, they can advertise your practice by wearing your logo across their face.  Score!

Let me explain my little asterisk (*).  My understanding is that, if a back office assistant is leaving the back office to go into the front office, they would need to remove all PPE.  So some offices have asked if a front office assistant could take the temperature, in theory, yes, however, it really should be someone with medical training taking it.  For the first few weeks of your reopening, I highly suggest you hire a temp rover (cross trained assistant) to assist the front in scheduling appointments, recare calls and insurance verifications, who can also take the temperatures of your patients, so no PPE goes to waste :).

# 4 They need to know what your plan is for opening up.  

We suggest you start with a soft opening.

Plan your first week, to be about 30% to your production goals.  This gives you a chance to work out any kinks, get your staff properly trained on all the new processes, and make sure you have enough supplies for a full week.

You must also decide if you are going to work shorter hours or longer hours.

 Many dentists that I have spoken to, plan to work extended hours and weekends to accommodate patients in a timely manner, while still staggering their appointments appropriately.

If you plan to work longer hours, you will need to split your schedule into shifts or teams.  If you have 2 back office assistants and 2 front office staff, have 1 assistant and 1 front office staff come in from 7 to 1 and then the 2nd team comes in from 1:30 to 7:30.  Try to avoid them coming in contact with each other incase one team gets sick.  If that happens, you will have to have them stay home for 2 weeks, but your other team can still come in since they were never in contact with them.

You should also start scheduling your dental temps on DirectDental so you have your teams ready to go as soon as you reopen.  We highly recommend building a Dental Temp Bench to get you through the first month of reopening.

Bonus Tip: Be understanding

We know you are anxious to start taking care of your patients again.  But you have to remember there are many people out there with real fear of getting back to “normal”.  And you need to approach every employee and patient as if that is the case.

Make sure you verbalize your commitment to everyone’s health and safety as much as possible and then act accordingly.

Do not hug patients.
Do not have food in the breakroom that is meant to be shared.
Do not hand your phone to someone to show them something
Don’t use anyone’s computer.

Do find ways to have fun with this.

Elbow bump, air hug, play “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer every morning during your huddle.

Some things may never go back to “normal”, but find a way to make the new normal even better.  We got this.

I included the ADA’s “Return_to_Work_Toolkit” for your viewing pleasure.

It includes some excellent resources, like customizable Welcome_Back_Reassurance_LetterADA_Patient_Screening_Form, and more!

Covid Relief Package: 

DirectDental is offering COVID-19 Relief packages for those that need to hire.

With this package we will:

  • Post your job on DirectDental.com and all the major job boards including ZipRecruiter, Indeed and Facebook.
  • Give you access to browse unlimited candidates.
  • 24/7 access to request unlimited temps.
  • Email your job to thousands of Dental Professionals
  • Promote your job on Social Media
  • And more…
  • Plus we are offering new plans with Zero Placement Fees.

Call us today if you have any questions.  619-295-1002.

Talk to you soon!