'We don't have a choice': How one dentist revamped his office to limit COVID-19 spread

Clinical Leadership & Infection Control

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Gary Moore, DDS, a dentist in Colorado Springs, Colo., is creating negative air pressure rooms in his dental office so he can see patients.

With differing recommendations from the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Dr. Moore consulted multiple dentists and healthcare providers, and concluded that negative air pressure rooms are now a necessity for dental practices. With an immunocompromised family member at home, Dr. Moore said COVID-19 exposure wasn't an option.

"I have to do everything I can to protect myself, family, staff and patients," Dr. Moore told Becker's Dental + DSO Review. "This is our new world, whether we want to admit it or not."

Creating the negative pressure rooms

Currently, Dr. Moore has converted two rooms into negative air pressure rooms. The dentist intends to convert a total of five out of eight operatories.

Dr. Moore ordered machines from Switzerland-based IQ AIR that suck out all the air in a room about every 3 to 4 minutes. The air is then filtered and released outside. The dentist also installed sealed doors, so when the doors close, air can only filter one way. The machines are HIPAA compliant and easy to install, though there is expense involved. After checking with the building's landlord, the dentist sealed the doors with medical grade ZipWall.

Challenges or obstacles in the way of converting the rooms

"The biggest problem I've had is competing with hospitals for equipment," Dr. Moore said, who has had to order most material from Switzerland.

Dr. Moore's dental practice had both open and closed operatories. Recently, he had a contractor come in and put in walls for the open operatories. The conversion process for closed operatories was easier.

Patient flow and procedures

Dr. Moore has received numerous phone calls from patients concerned about visiting the dentist. Staff members are telling patients about the negative pressure rooms, which are cleaned thoroughly between each patient visit. Patients also wait in their cars before the appointment, with no one in the waiting room.

"I think waiting rooms will be a thing of the past," Dr. Moore said, adding that he's already measuring the dimensions of the waiting room to add more operatories.

Dr. Moore uses an N95 respirator, while staff must use at minimum a level 3 mask. It was difficult to procure these supplies, though Dr. Moore had already ordered respirators when his family member fell sick.

Patients contact the dental practice via teledentistry, sending over photos or using video to live chat. Dr. Moore said all the information from the conversations can be downloaded into a PDF and put into the patient's chart. In emergencies, Dr. Moore tries to reach out to the patient's primary care physician so patients avoid hospital emergency rooms.

Conclusion

"We don't have a choice," Dr. Moore said about installing the negative pressure units. The dentist said he had moved forward with the plan after writing to leadership in Colorado about safety issues and receiving no response.

"This isn't the only virus that's going to come along. The units create confidence in the safety of treatment for everyone involved," Dr. Moore concluded.

More articles on dental:
Dentists urge White House to provide offices with COVID-19 tests before reopening
Utah governor reopens dental offices, unveils COVID-19 tracking app
5 states with highest, lowest unemployment rates amid pandemic

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