The current outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought much uncertainty for everyone both professionally and personally. We are all left wondering what to do to ensure our own safety, and that of our families, staff, and patients.
As per their most recent communication, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) has now “strongly recommended that all non-essential and elective dental services should be suspended immediately.” Emergency services may continue. The RCDSO will revisit this recommendation in early April.
Based on the above, though each person has to make their own decision, it does appear that closing our offices would be the prudent thing to do. Depending on the length of this suggested closure, we will need to take into consideration the continuation of care for our patients. This decision is left to individual offices keeping in mind the urgency of the treatment, the repercussions of delaying treatment and the potential risks for virus transmission.
When seeing patients, all current IPAC guidelines are to be followed. In addition, both passive measures in the form of signage at the front door and in reception areas; and active measures in the form of a questionnaire or phone calls prior to visits, should be implemented. These measures should include questions to determine whether in the last 14 days there has been:
- Travel outside of Canada
- Presence of symptoms such as fever or cough or shortness of breath
- Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19
- Close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to a COVID-19 impacted area
At-risk patients should have their appointments cancelled and they should be directed to report to their health care provider or contact Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000).
This situation is obviously very dynamic, and the incoming data and reports from health agencies may affect our current stance and that of the RCDSO. We will do our utmost to provide you with further communication or recommendations as they become available.
Another source of concern for all of us is what to do with our staff. To this end, please find attached a separate memo created by Wilton Martin Litigation Lawyers, to whom the OAO is indebted. Each member should review and consult with their own counsel to determine an appropriate course of action for their office in the event of a closure.
Finally, we need to communicate to our patients the closure of our offices and give them some explanation as well as the direction of what to do as far as their ongoing treatment. With that in mind, we have drafted a template letter that you may use and modify at your leisure to convey this information to them.
The following links are useful resources for supplemental information:
Rest assured that we will continue to communicate any suggestions, direction or instructions that come our way with respect to COVID-19.