Reopening Dental & Medical Facilities in the Midst of COVID-19
While COVID-19 is still present in the United States, dental offices and other medical facilities are prompted to safely reopen their doors as restrictions are lifted and cities/towns enter Phases 1, 2, and 3. With guidelines from state and local governments varying, Aftermath Services would like to provide medical offices with what we know best—cleaning and disinfection knowledge and best practices. Employing these best practices will help mitigate the health risk to doctors, employees, and patients should there be a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
Fogging Isn’t Enough
Some cleaning companies may be offering fogging as a disinfection method for COVID-19, but this is misleading. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on fogging medical facilities state, “Do not perform disinfectant fogging in patient-care areas.” Not only do some of the chemicals used in fogging have potential negative health care effects, but fogging is also not a proven treatment method to disinfect COVID-19. Instead, make sure you follow cleanup best practices or hire a professional COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting company.
Read, ‘The Truth Behind Fogging.’
Reopening Best Practices for Dental & Medical Facilities
Ensuring your employees and patients are safe to return to your practice is just the first step. Just because your place of business is currently safe doesn’t mean it will stay that way. If a COVID-19 positive person comes into your practice there is a potential for spread. Because of this, Aftermath Services recommends following these reopening best practices to avoid COVID-19 contamination.
- Continued social distancing – Reconfigure workspace/waiting rooms and maintain a low occupancy.
- Temperature checks – Check the temperature of everyone entering your practice to avoid potentially re-infecting areas of your business.
- Require face coverings – Continue using face masks through the entirety of the day, for both doctors/employees and patients whenever possible.
- Remove commonly-touched objects – Remove magazines, games and remotes from waiting areas to avoid potential spread.
- Disinfect high touch areas – Develop a regular cleaning routine and use EPA approved disinfectants to ensure commonly used areas stay safe.
- Install sanitization stations – Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Efficacy Validation for COVID-19
It is important that you have the ability to verify cleaning to ensure cleaning methods are properly disinfecting impacted areas. Efficacy validation demonstrates that you’re doing everything in your power to provide a healthy workplace that is free of known health and safety hazards.
More About Verifiable Surface Testing: SARS-CoV-2
Veriﬁable surface testing utilizes RT-PCR technology to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the viral cause of COVID-19, on fomites and hard surfaces. Surface testing adds a new level of measurability and accountability, and is critical to both proactive controls and the efﬁcacy of containment measures. This process can be done pre or post-disinfection, and is recommended to be performed on a regularly scheduled basis after preventative disinfection.
Develop a Plan to Keep Your Practice Safe
It’s critical to develop a plan to maintain a healthy work environment in order to maintain federal compliance with the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Take the following precautions to keep your business safe:
What Employees Need To Do
- Increase hand washing
- Discourage hand-to-hand contact
- Arm your employees with the most recent guidelines from the CDC
- Ensure employees have an adequate safe distance between desks or workstations
- Consider staggering the work schedule to keep occupancy low
- Consider requiring employees and customers to wear face masks when on premises
- Perform regular cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces
What Managers Should Be Doing
- Take temperatures before each shift
- Monitor employees’ health closely
- Require all work travel be approved by management prior to booking
- Do not condone the sharing of equipment (phones, desks, computers, etc.)
- Revisit your emergency response plan to account for a positive case
- Keep a record of employee travel both personal and business to more easily contact trace
Business Changes/Precautions to Take
- Increase HVAC ventilation rates
- Increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates or consider opening windows for increased airflow
- Provide tissues, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and other necessary supplies to maintain proper hand hygiene
- Install signage that reaffirms and promotes good hygiene practices
- Install no-touch trash receptacles
- Install sneeze guards where appropriate
- Employ contactless payment methods (Apple Pay, Google Pay)
- Modify equipment by installing foot hooks to swing open doors
- Place bright stickers on high-touch surfaces as a reminder to use caution
Prepare for a COVID-19 Resurgence
With normal flu cases typically increasing in the fall, it’s a valid concern that we could see an uptick in COVID-19 cases. According to Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, “Without a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, those two overlaid could be very problematic.” In all likelihood there could be a resurgence, so safeguards, development of a vaccine, and effective therapeutic strategies are of critical importance.
COVID-19 Surface & Employee Testing
While abiding by these precautions doesn’t guarantee your medical practice will stay safe from COVID-19, it does safeguard your business as much as possible against a resurgence. When paired with preventative disinfection and incorporated into a business continuity plan, employee testing can be key to risk mitigation.
Reopening Your Dental or Medical Practice Safely
Aftermath Services adheres to a stringent coronavirus demobilization process for our equipment, trucks, and waste storage areas and also has the proper licensing/permitting in compliance with federal, state and local regulations. For additional questions on our COVID-19 cleaning process or for more information on surface and employee testing, please contact our professional vercidual cleaning specialists at 877-702-2269. We can walk you through our coronavirus cleaning and disinfection process and provide next steps to make sure your business is safe to reopen.
Stay Up to Date with New Recommendations About Reopening
- Sign up for OSHA’s bi-weekly newsletter
- Sign up for CDC email updates
- Find your local state health department and elected officials