April 29th, 2020
To Our Fantastic Patients,
We will be celebrating our Strategic Re-Opening on Monday, May 4th! (Que fireworks and confetti!)
Please notice the use of the word “strategic”. This will NOT be business as usual. We are going to be moving slowly, as we are committed to doing everything we can to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our valley.
We will not knowingly treat a patient that has the possibility of having COVID-19, as the risk to our other patients and staff is simply too great at this time. We will be screening all patients at scheduling and when they arrive for their appointment. How we are scheduling patients is also changing. For a complete list of changes we are making, protections we are implementing, and anything else you may want to know, please check out the COVID FAQ section of our website.
We will be evaluating our procedures on a regular basis, and adjusting as necessary to be sure we are in compliance with all regulatory bodies.
- If you have a hygiene appointment that we have NOT contacted you to cancel, it is still on the books. We are currently calling to see who is planning on keeping their appointments and who wants to wait until COVID-19 is no longer a threat. You can help us with this by emailing email@example.com and letting us know. It will save us time, and we will contact you to prescreen for your appointment or reschedule if you prefer.
- Initially, we will only be scheduling 2 hygienists a day instead of 3. This means we may need to change your appointment even if you want to keep it. We are doing this to reduce the number of staff and patients in the office to maintain proper social distancing standards.
- For patients who have treatment that was already scheduled OR we have spoken to you during our shut down, we will begin calling on Thursday, April 28th to get you scheduled. Again, we are limiting the number of patients the doctors will see per day, so please have patience with us.
- We have kept notes on all patients who we need to contact….it amounts to several hundred people. We are moving through this as quickly as we can, but I know it can be frustrating to wait. We are asking that, unless you are in pain or having an active infection, you refrain from calling to get scheduled unless you have not heard from us by May 18th.
The last thing that we are asking is the hardest one. Because of the constraints that we are working under, we may not have the ability to be as talkative or accommodating as we normally are. Changes in treatment standards mean harder work for our hygienists. Prescreening every patient by the front desk staff means more time on the phone. We are asking for your understanding during this time because we may not seem as friendly as usual. It’s not that we don’t love and value all our patients. It is because we are trying to provide as much service as we can, to as many patients as we can, in a situation where we must limit the number of patients we can see, with fewer staff to accomplish it. To that end, it may not be possible to see the provider you want at the time you want. We have already had some challenges with our hygiene schedule, and current circumstances will not make things easier. Patient flexibility will help in allowing us to schedule in the timely manner possible.
We know this is an unsettling time for everyone. If you have any questions, please go to the FAQ section to see if the answer is there. If not, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and Teri will respond within 2 working days.
We cannot thank you, our wonderful patients, enough for the kind words you have given us over the last couple of months. We know how fortunate we are to be in a community that supports and cares about each other. We appreciate you and look forward to the day when this challenge is behind us all.
Stay safe and healthy.
Dr. James Burneson
Dr. Edward Warr
The staff at Today’s Dentistry
April 24, 2020
To Our Wonderful patients,
Governor Brown is allowing Medical and Dental offices to restart non-emergent and elective procedures as of May 1st. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has issued a set of guidelines that we are required to follow in order to begin seeing patients.
While we would like to open our doors immediately, the nature of COVID-19 and the steps laid out by the OHA require us to take this slowly. We must maintain social distancing, we must screen all patients for illness, and we must maintain a certain level of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.
All these items require us to make changes in how we schedule patients. There is also still a shortage of PPE. At the beginning of this crisis, we were asked to give up our excess PPE, which we did. While we do have gear here, getting replacements and adding to stock is proving to be a challenge.
We are asking for your patience and understanding as we navigate this new world of Dentistry. We will, by necessity, not be able to see as many patients in a day as we have previously. Because of the difficulty obtaining PPE, we will be building schedules slowly and having to make some hard calls regarding priority. If we are unable to get PPE, we will have to cancel all appointments.
If you have an upcoming appointment scheduled for May 4th or later, we WILL be in contact to either verify or reschedule your appointment, based on the above criteria. We do ask that if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, tiredness, dry cough) and you have an appointment within 14 days, you let us know so we can reschedule you.
If you are in a high-risk category (over 60 years of age, compromised immune system, or lung and heart function), we ask that you strongly consider the balance of risks vs. benefits prior to treatment. We can help you make that decision. We will be answering phones from (at least) 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Thursday next week. We can also be reached by email at email@example.com. We will respond during the above-mentioned hours.
Thank you for being such an amazing group of patients and working with us while we navigate a path forward. Stay safe and healthy.
Dr. James A. Burneson
Dr. Edward J. Warr
The staff at Today’s Dentistry
Dear Wonderful Patients,
On March 19th, Governor Brown issued a new Executive Order that will keep dental offices closed to elective and non-urgent treatment until June 15th. This order will achieve two objectives, reduce unnecessary contacts between people, and preserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the emergency response. Part of the Order requests that any provider with surplus PPE turn them over to the State. We agree with this course of action and have already donated face masks and gloves.
We are reaching out to every patient who is scheduled between now and then to cancel appointments. Due to the unique nature of this situation, we are not planning on immediately rescheduling appointments at this time. As we get closer to June 15th, and it appears that we will be allowed to resume seeing patients, we will need to triage care. As you can imagine, patients who are in discomfort or who have treatment that, if not quickly addressed, will lead to additional treatment, will be considered the highest priority. Please understand this is still a very fluid situation and can change almost daily. As things update, we will keep you posted through the website, emails, and text blasts.
If you or a loved one has a dental emergency, please call 541-708-1109. This is Dr. Burneson’s phone, he will be fielding all emergency calls through the duration of this crisis. Please CLICK HERE for a list of dental emergencies. PLEASE ONLY USE THIS LINE IF YOU ARE HAVING A DENTAL EMERGENCY. Please call the office at 541-482-7771 for all non-emergency calls. Teri will be checking messages periodically, but we will not plan on keeping the office open at specific times. We apologize for the inconvenience.
THANK YOU for being such wonderful patients. This is a very unprecedented time for all of us, but the community, hope, and kindness will get us through. Words cannot express our gratitude for your trust and confidence in our office and look forward to the day we get to see your lovely smiles in person.
Dr. Burneson, Dr. Warr, and the Staff of Today’s Dentistry
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you feel it is appropriate to open at this time?
Governor Brown has allowed dental offices to open as of May 1st. In order to do this, offices must follow some guidelines and evaluate how prepared they are
Jackson County (as of 4/24/20) has one of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in Oregon, at 49, in addition to having the state’s highest rate of testing per capita at the beginning of April. The area has done a great job at flattening the curve. We are confident that we can provide treatment and keep our staff safe by following guidelines laid out by governing authorities.
How is being in a dental office different than being anywhere else?
COVID-19 is spread through touch and aerosols, tiny droplets of water expelled by breathing that are suspended in the air. Aerosols can remain airborne for minutes or hours. In dentistry, when we use handpieces or ultrasonic scalers around saliva, we create aerosols.
This is not a new issue in dentistry, and we have always had certain precautions in place to protect our patients and staff. These include the use of high-volume evacuation, the use of personal protective equipment, thoroughly disinfecting all surfaces between patients, and a good air return system. While the infection rate of COVID-19 seems in line with the flu, the problem is the increased mortality rate associated with this virus.
What are you doing to protect my health if I schedule an appointment with you?
- We will pre-screen patients when scheduling for the possibility of infection or exposure to COVID-19. If any concerns exist, we will not schedule before 14 days have passed and a second screening has been performed.
- We will question whether you are at elevated risk if exposed to COVID-19 and may postpone care.
- Every patient at every appointment will be filling out a written screening as well.
- Please come to your appointment a few minutes early, alone. (Caretakers will be asked to leave after the patient has been taken to the treatment area, or wear a mask if staying with a child)
- We are asking the following of all our patients:
- Wear a mask in all public areas of the office (please bring one, we need to conserve ours for treatment).
- Wash your hands as soon as you enter the office.
- Check-in at the desk for written screening.
- The ultrasonic scaler will not be used for preventive cleanings.
- We are scheduling fewer patients daily, to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- We are having every patient use an antiseptic rinse prior to treatment.
- We are using Lysol in the treatment rooms after any procedure that creates aerosols.
- We are limiting the number of staff on site.
Other changes you may have already noticed:
- We have removed all magazines and toys from the reception area.
- We have re-arranged the reception area to allow for correct social distancing.
- We are using a disinfectant to wipe down all areas between patients at the front desk.
- We are regularly disinfecting hard surfaces in public areas, such as handles and switches.
I don’t feel comfortable keeping my scheduled appointment and want to postpone, is that OK?
Absolutely! We are currently rescheduling patients out for 4 months, subject to change as the schedule fills.
What changes are you making in scheduling, and how long will it take to get an appointment?
We are scheduling fewer patients in a day and will have fewer providers working, to be sure we can maintain social distancing and have time to effectively disinfect public areas as needed (treatment rooms have always been disinfected thoroughly between patients).
I need to be seen at 4PM and will only see my favorite hygienist, when can I come in?
Because of the unique situation we’ve been presented with, we can not guarantee that we can accommodate specific requests in a timely manner. The more flexibility you have, the sooner we can schedule you.
Are you going to shut down again?
Possibly. Being open is predicated on having enough personal protective equipment for our staff (which is why we ask that you bring your own mask). We are good now, but if there is a problem with continuing supply, we have no option but to cancel patients until we can get more. If COVID-19 rates start rising again in Oregon, the Governor could suspend all but emergency treatment. If these things happen, we will be in touch with scheduled patients as soon as possible.
What will happen with my Dental Plan?
We understand that many patients will not be able to utilize all the benefits of their Dental Plan at this time. We will adjust individually to allow you to utilize both of your benefits, provided you work with us to get you scheduled in a relatively timely manner when you feel safe doing so.
What if I’m losing my insurance and you can’t get me in before it’s over?
Unfortunately, we have no control over private insurance plans and agreements. We can do our best to get you in, but we cannot guarantee it will happen in your time frame. You can try contacting your insurance company and see if, due to the state-mandated shutdown, they would be willing to extend the end date of the insurance as it could not be used. It’s doubtful it will work, but you never know.