After limiting dental appointments to emergency visits during the early stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic per the advice of leading healthcare officials,  Dr. E. Dean Powell and his team are happy to be reopening his office in Hickory, North Carolina to elective procedures including but not limited to tooth cleanings, oral cancer screenings, cosmetic appointments, same-day crowns and other restorative procedures, and new patient initial exams in order to continue providing exceptional care for his patients’ oral health and wellness needs. How will the pandemic impact your appointment process? Find out what safety precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of illness.

Who can Make an Elective Appointment?
As medical practices are reopening for wellness visits and elective procedures, Dr. Powell and his team are getting excited about seeing their patients’ smiling faces again as well as greeting new patients. However, since the pandemic has not yet ended, there are some safety measures that will be in place such as limiting the number of people in the waiting area to four until further notice. Furthermore, if you are noticing any signs of illness within 14 days of your appointment, the policy will be to wait until 14 days after the symptoms have ended before coming into the office. Patients exhibiting any signs of illness who come to the office may be asked to leave and reschedule the appointment in accordance with the safety policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other viral or bacterial illness. The team advises patients to reschedule the day the appointment is canceled in order to meet your care needs as quickly as possible.

What if I Have Mild Symptoms of Illness?
There are many signs of COVID-19 that can make the virus hard to distinguish from a non-contagious medical condition. The CDC has requested individuals any mild cough, fever, chills, difficulty with breathing, tightness in the chest, or a reduced smell or taste to stay secluded from others until the individual has been symptom-free for 14 days. This period of restricted contact also extends to those traveling or exposed to potentially infected individuals.

However, what if the symptoms appear to be due to non-contagious conditions such as allergies or asthma? Should elective healthcare appointments be rescheduled? Per Dr. Powell, the team is open to assessing mild symptoms on a case-by-case basis. That said, they are asking for patience and understanding as they exercise caution in bringing anyone into the office who may be infected without realizing it.

“Our patient and team health and safety is always our top priority,” explains Dr. Powell. “We will try to reschedule those who are unable to make an elective appointment due to signs of illness for a day and time that is convenient for them. In this way, we are able to help patients and staff members at the office have a more calming and enjoyable experience.”

What Are the Office Safety Procedures?
When it comes to patient health, Dr. Powell and his team of highly trained professionals leave nothing to chance. Dr. Powell commented, “We follow all the guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Catawba County Health Department. Additionally, we watch out for recommendations from the CDC, Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and the American Dental Association (ADA).” Steps the team has always followed includes such measures as wiping down all hard surfaces with the #1 recommended disinfectant after each patient in the operatory rooms as well as each day in the waiting room, sanitizing instruments after every use, wearing a different disposable face mask and pair of gloves with each patient, and replacing barriers after use.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has added a transparent shield at the front desk and is closely monitoring reopening procedures suggested by the aforementioned agencies. Limiting the number of people and ensuring social distancing is maintained in the office is an example of safety precautions the team will be implementing to combat the spread of COVID-19. When scheduling their appointment, patients will be instructed to come to the appointment alone if at all possible and call the office to let the staff know they arrive in the parking lot. Then, a team member will take the patient’s temperature using a no-touch infrared thermometer while wearing a mask and gloves before the patient is brought into the office and straight into a clean and prepared room. Additionally, all doors to the rooms will remain closed to further ensure patient safety. Applying such safety policies comprises one portion of Dr. Powell’s wellness strategy to offer a calming anxiety-free experience that results in both a safer environment and such health benefits as a reduction of blood pressure, inflammation, and tension.

Should Patients Wear Masks in the Waiting Room?
Regarding face masks, Dr. Powell’s recommendation is for each individual to follow the guidelines on the CDC website for the best level of protection against contracting or spreading a contagious illness like COVID-19. “We are taking all possible precautions in our office procedures to prevent the spread of contagious microbes. Therefore, with or without a face mask, patients should feel completely comfortable during their visit with us,” stated Dr. Powell when asked about required personal protection equipment (PPE) from home such as cloth face masks for patients.

In short, Dr. Powell and his team are thrilled to announce they are once again setting appointments for routine and elective procedures. Call (828) 322-2133 or fill out the office contact form online today to set a date for your worry-free teeth cleaning or planned procedure. For new patients looking for a dentist in the Hickory, North Carolina area, ask about our free no-obligation consultations where you can meet Dr. Powell and learn about the Hickory Dentist difference firsthand. Appointments are already filling quickly, so don’t wait. Call today!