SIDNEY – After approximately six weeks of being closed or only providing emergency services, local dentists have reopened with fewer patients and more precautions.
Dentists closed in mid-March in response to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s orders that non-essential medical procedures should be postponed. The decision was made to slow the spread of the coronavirus and preserve personal protective equipment needed by medical professionals in the battle against COVID-19.
On Friday, dentists were allowed to reopen.
“I think everyone is ready to come back,” Shelby Bulcher, an administrative assistant for Dr. Jeff Van Treese said. “We’ve gone over all the new precautions, and we’re taking a lot of safety measures. We’re going to be very protected and cautious.”
Van Treese’s dental practice reopened on Wednesday. Other Sidney dentists also have opened their practices this week.
“We’ve had a pretty full schedule,” said Stacey Voskuhl, office manager for MidWest Ohio Dental Care’s Sidney office. “We have some spaces here and there.”
MidWest Ohio Dental Care has seen some patients cancel appointments as a precaution against COVID-19, but most available appointments have been booked.
To reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, dentists have reduced the number of appointments they’re scheduling. That prevents patients from coming in contact with each other and allows for additional cleaning time between appointments.
“We’re just extra cautious,” Voskuhl said.
One precaution that’s been implemented at practices throughout Sidney is not having patients remain in waiting rooms.
Sidney Smiles, Village Green Dental and Van Treese all are having patients call or text when they arrive for an appointment. Patients at MidWest Ohio Dental Care immediately are escorted back to a treatment room when they arrive.
Patients also are screened prior to their appointments with questionnaires and temperature checks. Having patients wash their hands and use antiseptic mouth rinses prior to any services are among other precautions dentists have taken.
The local dental offices said they have enough personal protective equipment to conduct business and have more scheduled to arrive soon.
Van Treese’s employees have started wearing face shields as an additional safety measure. They’re also working to make sure no masks or gloves are wasted to ensure they’ll have enough supplies.
“We’re just going to be very careful that none is wasted,” Bulcher said.
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