As I’m sure all of you are keenly aware, we are in the midst of an unprecedented healthcare crisis. Both the State of New Jersey and the Federal government have declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 virus. Although there is a lot of confusion and fear out there, here is what we know:
There is a state and national community effort to mitigate the spread of the virus. Current recommendations include social distancing, defined as staying approximately 6 feet away from most people, staying away from large gatherings, frequent hand washing of at least 20 seconds per wash, limiting touching your face and nose, actively encouraging sick employees to stay at home and working from home if possible.
The full list of CDC recommendations can be found at: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers. Additionally, environmental cleaning and disinfection can be found at: Interim Recommendations for US Community Facilities with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019
Unfortunately, many of these guidelines are not possible or have limited effectiveness in a clinical dental setting. With regards to patient care, we are unable to comply with social distancing recommendations nor can we telecommute. While our staff is meticulous with hand washing, we are particularly vulnerable because the virus is generally spread through respiratory droplets of which our masks are ineffective. Effective masks (N-95 respiratory masks) are largely unavailable in addition to being very difficult to wear for extended periods of time.
As a result, our staff is particularly vulnerable to catching the virus and if so would be likely to spread the virus to our local community and possibly beyond. Since the central part of all the recent closings (sporting events, concerts, etc) is to mitigate the spread to our community, continuing to provide non emergent dental care would run counter to all the other measures currently being taken.
Therefore, we are taking the temporary step of suspending routine dental care for the next 2 weeks, until March 30th. We will reevaluate the situation at that time and advise all our patients of our plans. For those of you with current appointments in the next 2 weeks, we will contact you by phone and will reschedule those appointments when we better understand our future schedule.
We will however, continue to provide any emergency dental needs and are available by phone should an emergency arise. If you call our office at 973-669-0500, select option #2, your phone call will come directly to me. That option is available 7 days per week. Should that need arise, we may elect to screen you for any evidence of contracting the virus (fever, recent travel, etc.).
We do not take these decisions lightly. We are making this decision with the health of our employees and the community involved. When more information becomes available we will communicate with all of you via email. Additionally, we are available by phone at our normal number, 973-669-0500 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay well and safe.
Paul R Feldman, DMD, FAGD, FICOI, PA