Important Changes at Vancouver Oral Surgery Group Regarding COVID-19
Prevention and Mitigation
In today’s covid-19 climate, Vancouver Oral Surgery Group’s goal is to create a safe environment for you and our staff while continuing to provide you with the individualized excellent care you have come to expect from our 50+ year history of serving our local community. Since mid-March of 2020, we have continued to stay open to treat urgent oral surgical problems while adhering to recommendations provided by the CDC, WISHA / OSHA, Governor Inslee and numerous organizations. Unfortunately, the delay in “elective” extractions is no longer sustainable, as the longer we wait, more and more these “elective” extractions have become urgent. That does make sense because extractions are never recommended if they were not needed in the first place. As we anticipate more extractions will be performed, we believe the covid-19 guidelines provided by numerous organizations for treatment of dental emergencies are no longer sufficient. We believe more stringent protections for patients and staff are needed. The risks can never be zero, but with the numerous protocols we have implemented, the risk can be reduced to very minimal levels.
First, we have implemented isolated negative air-flow surgical rooms for oral surgical procedures with integrated and standalone HEPA air filtration units. Depending on the room size, these high capacity HEPA filtration units are capable of removing 99.9% of calculated airborne contaminants in 12 to 14 minutes. Combined with our newly implemented hypochlorous acid fogging and continuing our standard total disinfection protocol in between patients, our decontamination process is second to none.
Second, we strongly believe in the safety of our staff. Without a healthy staff, there cannot be a healthy practice. We have implemented a comprehensive Respiratory Protection Program which includes engineering, administrative and work practice controls. While isolating staff from covid-19 is the best method, obviously that is not always possible. That’s where the work practice controls come in. Our surgical staff are strongly advised to wear fit tested disposable N95 respirators (and a surgical mask on top of that if the N95 is not made for surgical use), protective eyewear, faceshield, disposable caps, gowns, shoe covers and surgical gloves. Additional staff hours have been hired and additional protocols have been implemented to further minimize risk of airborne and contact cross contamination. Anyone working on the front lines of this pandemic understands this PPE is uncomfortable. However, we strongly believe that this is necessary to protect our staff which ultimately protects their families and any elderly family members they may have at home.
Third, we will continue to practice social distancing, as well as all the pre-covid-19 bloodborne pathogen standards. Just because we have a new respiratory pathogen doesn’t mean we will abandon the infection control measures we have been doing all these years. We believe there are still pathogens out there more dangerous than covid-19 and we need continued protection from them as well. You will notice a largely empty waiting room as your car has become our new waiting room in many cases. If you really want to use the waiting room, please be aware we have to limit the number of parties in the waiting room to 2 with a maximum of 2 people per party. You will also notice plexiglass partitions and mask wearing receptionists. Be assured they are still smiling under those masks!
This is just a brief outline of some of the things we having been doing here at Vancouver Oral Surgery. As you can imagine all these changes has increased our costs significantly and as the cost of PPE has increased multifold, we will charge a PPE surcharge of $35 per surgery and we will submit it to insurance. Please be aware that these charges are not covered by insurance companies. Thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask one of us.