“Red tape will often get in your way. It’s one of the reasons I often carry scissors!” – Richard Branson.
This is the second and final installment of an article dealing with the way in which a lack of federal government intervention into the creation of any type of COVID 19 national action plan places patients at risk in contracting this killer virus. This article deals with the Canadian situation and how one dental office is hamstrung from taking any type of proactive approach to safeguard patients.
In the first installment of this article I concluded by describing the way in which one dental office adopted a plan to protect its patients.
Chatting about patient protection on the phone with the receptionist allayed my fears and concerns about going there for the surgery. My opinion changed when I sat in the patient waiting area for over an hour and saw what was really going on there.
The protective plan included the following courses of action: temperature scans at the reception desk before accepting patients ; offering a “virtual waiting room” so patients will not flood waiting rooms; two large bottles of hand sanitizer place strategically at both the reception desk and inside the waiting area; regular cleansing of the chairs in the waiting area.
Although my appointment was scheduled for 2:15 p.m. my name was not called until 3:30 p.m. Mine was deemed an “emergency” visit and as such I was placed on the bottom of the waiting list. This time lag afforded me the opportunity to watch the real melodrama unfold in its own time.
As I sat on my chair near one of the entrances I noticed a number of irregularities. The hand cleanser at the reception desk was covered with spill over cream and no one was bothering to clean the mess up or even sanitize the bottle after patient use. Luckily I always carry my own mini bottle of alcohol based cleanser.
My friend Lee who works in a health facility told me recently that many offices dilute the cleanser to fifty percent potency. The large containers of cleanser are expensive and that was the rationale for cutting back the strength of the cleanser offered to unsuspecting patients. He told me that product sales representatives suggested the clinics do this as a cost cutting measure. TIP: carry your own spray bottle.
One of the front office female receptionists came out during my stint sitting in the cramped waiting room and used a Lysol spray to clean the chair. She wore a face mask and blue cleaning gloves to do that. Although my appointment was scheduled for 2:25 p.m. my name was not called until 3:30 p.m. During that interval the chairs were not cleaned again.
Ten minutes after sitting patiently in my chair a number of “unmasked” patients entered the room: a woman and her teenage son; a middle aged man wearing headphones and carrying his tablet.; another male wearing no face mask and taking a seat near the other doorway. The head count in the room grew from the initial four to not eight. The new arrivals wore no facial protection. The mother filled out the paperwork while her son stood nearby ( no social distancing).
The guy with the tablet started coughing and did not “bother” to cover his mouth. He seemed to be absorbed with the video game he was playing. I was wearing a mask and was concerned for the other patients in the room. I always carry a spare mask or two. I stood up, approached the man and asked if he would like a mask. He removed the headphones, looked at me and said “no thank you.” Just like that..
I returned to my chair relatively irritated and after a few moments of reflection returned to the front desk. I told one of the receptionists about the patient and she said there was nothing the office could do about it. Until there was a national directive to wear masks there was nothing legally they could do.
I then asked her if face masks were offered to patients who requested one. She answered “yes”. I then asked her if that was the case why was there no placard informing patients that masks were available at front desk. She did not have an answer for that one. TIP: always carry your own mask and a few spares in case the mask you are wearing breaks.
As this melodrama continued to develop a male patient walked past me on his way to see the dentist. He grumbled loudly about the way the “virtual waiting room” was a sham. He told the female dental hygienist taking him to the operating room that he waited in his car for an hour and that the application he downloaded onto his iPhone “failed miserably”. He was visibly peeved. TIP: Try not to depend on apps that promise you the moon. Contact the office via a traditional phone call.
There was an apparent “over booking” of patients that day but as I sat quietly in my chair three were escorted to their waiting operating rooms at the same time. The teenager’s name was called and his mother “insisted” that she accompany him to the dentist’s cubicle. Many of the operating cubicles were reduced in size and her request to accompany her son there seemed unreasonable.
My name was finally called and I was escorted to the operating cubicle. Before I sat in the chair I removed my reading glasses and replaced them with a pair of safety goggles I use when I cook stir fry in a wok.
The dental office provides a pair of smaller lensed glasses that protects patients eyes from getting sprayed from the dental drill. The glasses offered are small and too many patient’s had handled the same pair in the past. I was just being cautious. TIP: Bring along your own pair of safety glasses or glass that adequately cover your eyes for any/all dental procedures.
The tooth could not be saved and am extraction was required. I needed freezing and so after the dentist left the area while waiting for the freezing to take I replaced my safety mask. I thought that was a good, protective measure to follow. TIP: use the safety mask to protect yourself from stray droplets in the air from other patients.
My dentist was momentarily taken aback when he noticed I was wearing my safety glasses. I apologized for upsetting his game plan but told him it was merely a sign of the times. TIP: Don’t be intimated in protecting your own health. Doctors are human and make mistakes like the rest of us.
Although Edmonton is the capital of Alberta the city cannot mandate making face masks mandatory. There are a few other “municipalities” close by which would not have to accept the mask order. Federal action is required to make it so.
On another note the extraction went well, the sutures dissolved and disappeared Friday and my health is okay.
In part two of this post I describe the “real” and not virtual condition of this office and the ways in which medical centers need a federal guidance plan to ensure their patients comply with pandemic protocols and procedures. Without such a national strategy no one is really safe from infection.
This post is presented as part of partner Susan and my Wednesday Challenge , TIPS AND TRICKS, on our alternate site WEEKLY PROMPTS.