Dealing with Your Patients COVID-19 Fears
There are two parts to this Newsletter and both are key elements to restarting your practice in the most positive way possible during these unique and challenging times.
The first is to show you how you can best protect yourself, your staff, and your patients from exposure to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) once you open your office again. The second is to utilize these protective protocols as a marketing tool to promote your practice and let you stand out from the competition.
When the coronavirus (CV) restrictions have been lifted people will begin to return to their lives prior to the pandemic. During this period the competition for patients will be even more intense and generating new patients (and bringing existing patients back) will never be more important.
But, even when the risk of contracting CV is reduced, people will still retain a great deal of fear and anxiety. The best way to deal with their fears is to let them know your office will, as much as possible, protect them from exposure to the coronavirus.
Once implemented these protocols will simply become a part of your normal practice. I also believe they should be used even after the pandemic has abated. Doing so will minimize the transmission of other contagious viruses and bacteria; including flu, colds, hepatitis, etc. At the end of this Segment of the Newsletter I'll explain the COVID-19 Patient Protection Protocol Handout and how you can get access to it to use in your practice and on your website.
Note: Taking these protective steps is not difficult, complicated, or costly. In effect, doing so will be similar, and significantly less expensive, to the protocols you use to protect your patients from unnecessary and excessive exposure to mercury vapor.
Goals & Steps
Following my suggestions will accomplish three important goals:
- Maximize in office protection protocols for the coronavirus – and other contagious viruses and bacteria
- Promote your office as the safest place to have dental treatment
- Allow you to stand out from the competition
Steps Necessary to Accomplish These Goals
You will be able to accomplish these goals by:
- Fully utilizing the safe protocols already in place for removing mercury amalgam fillings
- Establishing protective in-office guidelines for your staff to implement
- Establishing protective guidelines for patients coming to your office
- Providing handouts to patients entering your office that explain your goals, philosophy and protocols – existing and new
Step One of the Process: For the Office & Staff
The first part of this process is to maximize your ability to minimize exposure to the coronavirus within your office. (These can be modified by you to fit your practice.)
No employee will come to work if they are ill, exhibit symptoms of CV, or have a temperature over 100.4 degrees.
A stand will be placed directly inside the patient door (and staff entrance door if it exists) and will have alcohol (or equivalent) sterilizing agents, masks, paper towels, and a waste container.
Every employee who enters the office will sterilize their hands immediately upon entering the office and put on a protective mask.
An employee will then wipe down the outside and inside door knobs of the door that staff and patients use to enter the office.
The dentist and assistant already wear the protective HEPA masks during all amalgam removal procedures and a protective face shield. For all other treatment procedures the dentist, assistant, hygienist will wear protective masks and face shield if desired. (Note: HEPA masks will protect against coronavirus, along with other viruses and bacteria. The coronavirus is approximately 0.125 microns in size (125 nanometers). The HEPA mask captures particles 0.01 microns (10 nanometers) in size.)
The dentist, hygienist, assistant, and any staff member entering the operatory while a patient is present will thoroughly wash their hands - even to the point of drying them in front of the patient. (Or replace gloves if worn.)
After a patient leaves, an employee will sterilize all surfaces that a patient or staff came in contact with and sterilize/wash his/her hands.
At the end of the day all surfaces that patients or staff have had contact with will be sterilized by wiping with alcohol. This would include restrooms, all counters, chairs, reading material, etc. You want to make sure you have a sterile office to start the next day.
Step Two of the Process: For the Patient
It is just as important to protect the dentist, and staff, from exposure to the coronavirus that a patient could bring to the office. To accomplish this, the staff will employ the necessary protocols to protect the dentist and staff from the patient while in the office. Once the patient has sterilized his/her hands and has put on a mask, the patient will then be able to touch any surface and the team will know that any exposure to the virus has been significantly minimized, or removed.
Protocols for the Patient
When confirming the appointment, the front desk person will make sure to ask each patient if they now have any illness, especially any contagious ones.
- The patient will be asked if they have been tested for CV, have contracted it, or have antibodies to it and have been declared free of it.
- They will also ask them if they have a temperature over 100.4 degrees. If they have any of the above the appointment will be postponed until that patient recovers.
- When they enter the office, each patient will utilize the sterilization protocol for their hands.
- The patient/or office staff/ will then wipe both door knobs of the entrance door.
- Each patient will put on a protective mask until they start treatment when a nasal hood will be placed. The nasal hood will be used regardless of the treatment done.
- The waiting room will be limited to only the number of patients who can adequately be kept 6 feet apart. Staff is responsible for controlling that protocol.
Please don't think you are overdoing the protection protocols, or that they may not be necessary. Taking these steps will make a significant impact on those patients who are still fearful of contracting the virus and will make a difference. It is this difference that will generate word-of-mouth promotion - the very best kind!
Patient Handout: Explanation
Each new patient will be given a COVID-19 Safety Protocol Handout when entering the office - if it hasn't been emailed. (I also recommend that each existing patient be mailed/emailed a copy of the Safety Protocol.) Doing so will allow you to actively market your new safety protocol to existing/new patients, encouraging their return to your practice.
The front desk staff could also get the email addresses of all new patients and email the handout so they too will know what you are doing to protect them before they come to the office. This also encourages word of mouth promotion by both existing and new patients. You can't expect them to know the steps you are taking unless you tell them.
Note: If you decide to put this and other information on your website your front office person could refer patients to it. We will send you a Word Document copy of the Patient Handout upon request and you can customize it to fit your practice. ***Susan's Contact Information is found below.
I recommend you put a link to the Video by Dr. David Price, an ER Doctor at Cornell Medical Center in New York. I've done an extensive amount of research on the Covid-19 and have learned a lot - but this was the most powerful and informative material I've yet seen. You may have viewed this but if not I suggest you watch it and make it available to your patients - and anyone who visits your website. It will be a great service to those who are still fearful about contracting it. https://vimeo.com/399733860
A nice personal touch, easy to do, and a positive thing to do for patients (especially new ones), is to hang a photo with the name under it, over the neck of each team member. As everyone will be wearing a mask this is a great way to show the patient who is caring for them.
Marketing & Promoting a Mercury Safe Practice
All dentists on my Mercury Safe Dentist Internet Directory can have access to my Marketing Program: How to Market and Promote a Mercury Safe Practice online. You'll want to maximize your exposure when you open your office again and this is the best and most cost-effective way to do that. ***Please contact Susan and she will email it to you. 800-335-7755 or Email by Clicking Here.
Mercury Safe Dentist Directory Listing
If you aren't Listed on my Directory and want an Instant #1 Ranking on the 1st Page of Google you can review the many benefits and features of the Directory by Clicking Here. If you are Listed and you decide to implement COVID-19 protection protocols please contact us so we can add that to your Listing Page.
Add Covid-19 Content to Your Website
My suggestion is that you have your web person add the pertinent information about your Covid-19 Patient Protocols to your website homepage. You and the staff can then snet patients who are interested to it. You can make any modifications to what I've presented above so it will be personalized to fit your philosophy. Doing so will not only be beneficial to existing patients but those who aren't yet patients and find your website. ****Contact Susan to have the content sent to you as a Word Document. 800-335-7755 or Email by Clicking Here.