COVID – 19 Information
Per the PA Department of Health “Revised Guidance on COVID-19 for Dental Health Care Personnel in Pennsylvania” that was published May 8, 2020, and revised on June 3, 2020, Susquehanna Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is applying its clinical judgment to treat individuals with dental and facial trauma-related emergencies, as well as any individuals requiring treatment of non-urgent and non-emergent dental care and maxillofacial surgery. This includes those patients in acute pain, dental infections and/or suffering injuries from dental or facial trauma, wisdom teeth extractions, dental implants, anesthesia and related surgeries. Clinical judgment will be used in cases that may require delay due to concerns of patient health.
What are the signs/symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19?
Similar to patients with other flu-like diseases, patients with known COVID-19 have reported mild to severe symptoms which can include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
As part of its regular every-day procedures, Susquehanna Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, P.C., implements infection control measures that comply with ADA and OSHA guidelines for best infection control practices. The medical providers and staff of Susquehanna Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, P.C. have been working hard to determine additional precautions that we can implement to avoid and reduce the potential spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) among patients, visitors and staff.
To help screen for signs / symptoms of COVID-29, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a multi-step approach that would begin before our patient arrives at the practice and includes guidance regarding their arrival and for the complete duration of the patient’s presence in our office. We seek to prevent the transmission of respiratory infections in our healthcare setting by adhering to respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette infection control measures at the first point of contact with any potentially infected person. All surgical staff have completed the mandatory annual Respiratory Protection training and have been respirator fit-tested. In addition, all doctors and staff continue to completed Continuing Education courses in OSHA and infection-control, as well as Coronavirus Training for Nursing Professionals. SOMS continues to provide Trauma Support for Wellspan York Hospital.
To combat spread of COVID-19, SOMS has taken the following steps:
- SCREEN FOR SYMPTOMS PRIOR TO APPOINTMENT: When confirming appointments by text or telephone a few days in advance of actual appointments, the employee will notify the patient that elective surgeries must be rescheduled if the patient has been in extended contact with a COVID-positive individual in the last 14 days, the patient has fever, or is exhibiting respiratory symptoms such as cough, sneeze or sniffling.
- PATIENTS are required to wear facial masks that cover both the mouth and nose to help prevent the spread of any virus particles.
- ARRIVE ALONE or ONE PERSON TO ACCOMPANY PATIENT if undergoing surgery: If a patient is undergoing surgery, the patient is to be accompanied by only one person to serve as the driver after elective surgery. We reserve the right to ask the driver to wait in their vehicle during the surgery or procedure. The driver should have a cell phone available so that the office can direct them to the Patient Discharge exit once the patient has recovered from surgery. Minors must have a guardian accompany them during consultations, but the guardian will follow the same guidelines for all drivers and wait in their vehicle until patient is ready for discharge.
- ON SITE PRE-SCREENING BEFORE CHECK-IN: Upon arrival at the office, a clinical staff member will pre-screen patients, and their accompanied guardian or driver, in the following manner:
- Screen for fever by measuring temperature
- Observe for physical signs of flu-like symptoms (cough, sneezing, sniffling, shortness of breath)
- Inquire about travel and exposure to potential carriers of FLU or COVID-19 or other infectious conditions.
- Direct patient / driver to wash their hands with hot water and soap before they may check in at the Front Desk.
- Until the patient is escorted to their procedure, they will be directed to maintain at least 6′ distance from a non-related person and may remain in several areas: their vehicle, sit outside on provided benches, or inside the Reception Room while maintaining a physical distance.
- SANITIZING STATION has been set up in the Reception Room, with tissues and sanitizer, as well as a hands-free waste can for soiled tissues.
- RINSE WITH 1% HYDROGEN PEROXIDE before appointment: we request patients rinse with 1% hydrogen peroxide before each appointment. Coronavirus is vulnerable to oxidation; this will reduce the salivary load of oral microbes. This product may be found in local pharmacies or grocery stores in the oral health section.
- EMERGENCY PATIENTS: Patients with an acute respiratory illness who arrive for non-elective surgery (emergency) will be identified at Pre-Screening, and, when possible, will be placed in a single-patient room with the door kept closed OR in a separate area at least 6’ from the next patient or employee, until: a) they are sent home, or b) the doctor chooses to treat patient. The patient must wear a face mask which must be worn by the patient while inside public areas at SOMS. Employees will also wear all appropriate PPE as recommended by CDC.
- PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: Doctors and surgical assistants will continue to follow Infection Control best practices as they have in the past, donning Personal Protective Equipment during consultations, exams, procedures and surgeries. While assessing a patient with influenza-like or other respiratory illness, or who responds in the affirmative to the above pre-screening questions, employees will wear additional PPE to prevent and reduce exposure, including:
- Disposable full-face surgical facemask*
- Disposable gown / lab coats
- Additional eye protection (e.g., large goggles, face shield)
- Surgical Gloves
- Hair and shoe coverings when required
- MEDICAL-GRADE LAUNDRY: All doctors and staff are will continue to participate in having scrub uniforms that are soiled or that may have been exposed to infectious body fluids laundered off-site at a facility that uses medical-grade laundering methods.
- CLEAN & DISINFECT OFFICE FACILITY: Just as we do during flu season, staff will continue to clean disinfect all surfaces, door handles, seating areas, and other areas of the facility with EPA-registered, Hospital grade Cavi-wipes, sprays and other disinfectants several times a day.
- HANDS FREE INFECTION CONTROL: Patient and dental healthcare staff will perform hand hygiene (e.g., hand washing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic handwash) after possible contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects/materials.
- ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: During Recovery from Surgery, SOMS shall implement environmental methods to prevent patients from close proximity to each other by:
- stationing recovery beds at least 4’ feet from each other, as well as
- closing curtains between recovery chairs so as to create an additional physical barrier between patients.
- INSTALLATION OF ENGINEERING CONTROLS: Clear acrylic screens have been installed at the front desk, post-procedure check-out desks, and the offices of the Implant Director and Patient Care Coordinator to provide another level of separation between patient and employee to help prevent the transmission of virus and other contagious contaminants.
- 2-STEP STERILIZATION: All equipment, surgical instruments and supplies that are used in surgeries and procedures will continue to be subjected to an intense, two-step sterilization protocol to prevent cross-contamination that SOMS already has in place as standard best practices.
- VISUAL ALERTS & REMINDERS: Visual Alerts will be posted in treatment rooms and rest rooms to urge patients to follow Respiratory Hygiene / Cough Etiquette protocol.*
- FLU VACCINE: All physicians and staff are required to get the Flu vaccine annually.
- AVOID CLOSE CONTACT: Staff will greet patients with a smile but, until further notice, will avoid shaking hands and hugging.
- SLOW & STEADY: Should any of our staff become sick we will direct them to seek medical care as necessary and to remain at home. We will support our staff if they should need to care for children at home during this national emergency. We ask our patients and our referring doctors for their patience as we adapt to potential staffing changes in the office. We will strive to maintain regular hours and availability and we thank you for your understanding if we would need to return phone messages through our answering service. Dr. Boyle will continue to be available to patients of record 24 hours/ day.
- STAY UP TO DATE: Recommendations may change as additional information becomes available. We will continue to monitor the CDC website for COVID-19 updates.
When a patient with a confirmed case of COVID-19 requires urgent oral & maxillofacial treatment, the oral surgeon and the patient’s medical providers will work together to determine the appropriate precautions on a case-by-case basis. This coordinated approach is critical in order to ensure that the risk of potential spread of disease among patients, visitors, and staff is kept as low as possible.
We strive to provide all patients with a safe and satisfactory experience. Thank you for your patience as we continue to meet the challenges presented by COVD-19.