This is an unprecedented time in my years! Through much deliberation over the weekend, watching the news, conversing with our colleague friends, and waiting for direction from our governing bodies, Angelique and I went in this morning to advise everyone that we have decided to close the office for at least two weeks or more to let this Coronavirus threat subside. It was a difficult decision, as without the Authorities directives, we might not get the Insurance to pay our overhead, and we might not get the Employment benefits for our staff. And we were worried that we were going to inconvenience our patients by rebooking them. By noon, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the backing of the Federal government to the workers, and the Vancouver Coastal Health had advised for attendees of the Pacific Dental Conference to self-isolate. Now we had the word from high up so we could reap the supporting benefits to help us through the crisis.
We had all attended the Pacific Dental Conference March 5-7. Approximately 5 days later, they got word that an attendee had tested positive for the COVID-19. He was a dentist that just come back from Germany, and did not self-quarantine himself, and came to our conference on March 6th, from 2 to 4 pm. On March 13th, Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, confirmed that there was a sick attendee, but assured us that the risk of infection was minimal, so we should not do anything beside watch for symptoms. Fast forward to today at noon, and now Dr. Henry is recommending anyone that went to the conference self-isolate until March 22nd, because they have identified 3 other cases that went to the conference. Remember that this is now 10 days after the end of the conference, just 4 days away from the 2 week window of the infection potential.
We all feel fine, and without symptoms. We have always practiced infection control for all patients to minimize potential cross-infection. But to help ‘flatten the infection curve’ of this virus, we are all going to stay home and lessen the possible transmission by social distancing. If you haven’t seen this article from the Washington Post you have to check it out, as it illustrates how social distancing works the best to limit the spread.
The dentists will be available for dental emergencies only during this closure. We have been advised to triage over the phone, and we will treat mostly with medications. Severe enough cases, especially with potential COVID-19 infections, will be dealt with through the 811 hotline.
We all have to do our part and make the sacrifices necessary to beat this unprecedented challenge. Remember to wash your hands, don’t touch your face, sneeze and cough into your arm. Don’t visit your elderly friends and family members, as they are the most susceptible, and especially if they have an underlying health condition. Stay away from crowds.
We hope that you and your loved ones all stay safe through the coming weeks. We hope to see you all again soon.
Ray, Angelique and Dylan