Team Communication & Training
Even if you’re still trying to understand the situation we’re all in right now, it is a critical time to stay engaged with your team members. With all of the uncertainties you have, you know one thing’s for sure – you care about your staff and their safety is a priority. If there was any time to over-communicate, this is it. Reassurance is key. Below and in the pages to the left are some ideas for you to implement with your staff.
Soft Re-Opening of Your Dental Practice
Prepare Your Team
- Conduct a virtual team meeting before re-opening your practice. Let your team know the steps you are taking to keep them safe in this new environment.
- Speak to each staff member individually to ascertain each staff member’s dedication to returning to work, and if they are available for additional hours to meet hygiene demand.
- Communicate any changes in hours or workflow. In order to follow the ADA recommendations to reduce exposure and maintain social distancing, it may be necessary to divide your team into smaller work groups and extend practice hours. This will create greater convenience for patients who may have had a work interruption and do not want to take time off for dental visits. This also protects staff from the risk of multiple team members needing time off due to an exposure resulting in symptoms.
- Meet with the team at the practice to fit test their N95 masks and to accustom themselves to new equipment and PPE (HVE, air purifiers, donning of paper gowns, etc.) More fit testing and PPE information can be found here:
OSHA N95 Fit Test Statement and Video
ADA OSHA N95 User Seal Check Video
CDC Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE
CDC Donning and Doffing PPE Guide
- Conduct an educational “walk through” of all new and prior infection control and workflow protocols along with sterilization assignments.
- Verify each staff member understands their additional duties to follow safety guidelines.
Larger teams may need to participate in this training in smaller groups to maintain social distancing.
Patient Reassurance – Measures to Take
- Wash hands/use hand sanitizer in front of patient, followed by donning gloves.
- Leave the bag of sterilized instruments on top of the tray in view of the patient; let them witness you opening the sterilization pouch, and reassure them this protocol is not new; each patient has a reserved set of sterilized instruments.
- Verbalize safety protocols:
“We’ve worked hard to ensure you and our team are safe. We have (equipped the operatories with air purifiers, reduced aerosols through additional suction equipment) and added personal protection to protect you, our staff, and doctors from airborne viruses.”
- Ensure countertops are free of all non-essential items such as tissue boxes, models, mirrors, personal items, etc. The countertops should be clear and easy to sterilize. Retrieval of items in drawers can take place as necessary following strict cross-contamination protocols.
- Sanitize bathrooms, consult room, reception area, and door handles after each use or every two hours, with EPA approved disinfectants. Assign this task to staff members by area.
- Additional guidance: ADA Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit
End of Day
- Continue to follow all ADA and CDC guidelines concerning changing uniforms, hand washing, care and laundering of scrubs/lab coats, etc.
Team Meeting Changes
- The first team meeting back will need to cover a lot of ground, we’ve compiled several suggestions on topics to include during this meeting.
- Morning Huddles need to support a 6-foot distance. Smaller team huddles may need to take place or can be conducted through a platform such as the Zoom app on phones to maintain a safe distance.
- Provide an alternative to eating in the lunchroom to maintain a 6-foot distance. Allow staff an opportunity to prepare and store food in the lunchroom, and direct them to alternative places to eat such as outside or in their vehicles.
- Reduce staff-to-staff and staff-to-patient contact as much as possible; locate or remove chairs in such a way to support a 6-foot distance – this includes chairs in a checkout area, reception area, and lunchroom.
HR Related Topics
- As your team returns to work, you may start receiving requests for sick leave or family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which is in effect through 2020. The ADA (with Jackson Lewis) has developed a helpful Q&A on this subject.