21 Apr Keeping Staff Safe
The dental office is safe for both patients and staff. With all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, its long-term prevalence and a lack of vaccine, some dental team members may wonder if they’re safe returning to work at a dental office. Dentists value their staff and the safety of everyone in the office, and we’re working hard to protect you and the patients we serve. Below are some facts and tips to reinforce staff safety and a professional office environment.
For Dental Office Staff
- Remember that since the 1980s, dental professionals have been the leader in exercising Universal Precautions to protect both themselves and their patients from any number of communicable diseases. As a hygienist or assistant, your masks, gloves, face shields, eye protection and protective clothing are designed to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
- An even more vigorous emphasis on office disinfecting and patient screening should also serve as additional protection for staff.
- Here are the recommendations for infection control and PPE from the IDA COVID-19 Task Force. These recommendations include reducing aerosol production as much as possible, and instead prioritizing the use of hand instrumentation. We will continue to monitor research from the CDC and the ADA on aerosols, viruses, and standard PPE recommendations.
- If you have concerns, speak to your dentist. Rather than complaining privately, voicing your concerns in a professional manner keeps everyone on the same page and fosters an honest, transparent office environment. If you still feel unsafe returning to the office, this is an employment decision for you to make.
- There are a variety of professionally acceptable alternatives for compliance with CDC recommendations. Dentists can use their professional judgement in assessing and determining the proper equipment necessary for your office.
- For those currently receiving unemployment benefits from the State of Indiana: If your office re-opens and you are offered your job back, you must either accept the position and stop accepting unemployment, or resign from the practice. As you know, your weekly unemployment request includes the question of whether you have been offered a job, and you will face steep fines if you fail to disclose that you had the opportunity to return to work but declined the offer.
- Click here to read a statement from the Indiana Dental Hygienists Association.
- As you prepare to re-open your office, be sensitive to staff concerns about safety. Meet together and be proactive in anticipating worries from your team members.
- If your office has the appropriate supply and use of PPE and your staff are still questioning returning to the office, you and your staff will need to have a professional discussion about whether they wish to continue working in your dental practice.
- Reinforce patient safety guidelines to minimize the spread of disease in your office.
- Keep the CDC’s PPE Guidance and the IDA COVID-19 Task Force Interim Recommendations in mind to ensure that hygienists and assistants have as much protective gear as possible.