Dental offices continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines

Hannah Brown
Main Street Dental in Pratt is one of several area dental offices with employees hoping to get back to work soon. Most offices in the area were closed except for emergency dental work because of coronavirus mandates from the state government.

Dental clinics across the state of Kansas (and the country) are limited in what they can do for their patients during the stay-at-home order. The novel coronavirus has put a spotlight on safety precautions to limit the spread of the disease.

In Kiowa County, the Greensburg Dental Clinic (located in the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital) is accepting only emergency appointments, according to staff for Dr. Robert L. Sweet.

The Kansas Dental Association has barred any hygiene cleanings until the stay-at-home order is lifted, which puts all clinics in the area in the same position.

Safety precautions may be lifted as soon as May 1, but that depends on Governor Kelly and Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman recommendations at a special “reopening the economy” news conference to be held Thursday, April 23.

The Greensburg Dental Clinic along with clinics in Pratt have started taking precautionary measures to assure the safety of their patients and staff alike. At Pratt Family Dentist, patients who come in for an emergency procedure must answer a questionnaire and must have their temperature taken before they are allowed to enter. The same measures are in place in Greensburg, where patients are questioned about recent out of state travel and if they have been around anyone with symptoms.

Area dentists are ready to get back up and running like normal and will be fully staffed and ready to serve area residents when the stay-at-home order is lifted. Main Street Dental in Pratt is also only accepting emergency appointments. Because of this, they are only working half days Monday-Friday. Thankfully, employees are still receiving full pay during this hard time.

Lois Shumway, a dental assistant at Main Street Dental with 40 years of experience, said she has never worked through anything like this.

“The next closest thing would be the AIDS pandemic, which brought lasting changes in many areas, including dental workers wearing masks and gloves,” Shumway said. “I think there will be long lasting changes from COVID-10 as well.”

Another change Shumway thinks will stick around is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in dental offices. For the foreseeable future, patients will have to have their temperature taken before being treated, and social distancing measures will be taken in the waiting rooms.

Main Street Dental office personnel has had to cancel appointments due to the stay-at-home order, but the staff there hopes to get all of those patients taken care of starting May 4, although they know it will take time to reschedule everything.