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Update: COVID-19 in Your Practice; PPE From State

As Texans begin to venture out, going to businesses and various appointments as well as socializing with others—even with precautions—the statistical reality is that a positive COVID-19 exposure may find its way to dental practices via an employee or patient.

Before treating any patient, Texas dentists must conduct comprehensive patient pre-screenings for COVID-19. Additionally, dentists and dental team members must conduct daily COVID-19 screenings on themselves to determine if they are healthy. However, despite these rigorous screening requirements, dental practices, like all reopened Texas businesses, could come into contact with patients who are COVID-19 positive and could have employees who are COVID-19 positive.
We understand that this can be a challenging time for you and want to make sure you know the necessary steps to take. In all communications, remember to protect the patient or team member’s confidentiality. Here’s what you must do if you have a positive case in your practice:

Dentist – Dental Team Member Tests Positive

Patient Tests Positive
We also recommend reviewing the American Dental Association’s resources for COVID-19  positive tests. The  information includes steps to take in either case to help ensure the health and safety of patients and staff and to reduce virus transmission.

Notifying Patients
How you communicate with your patients about a possible COVID-19 exposure is very important. Remain focused and calm. A sample script for your communication with patients is below.
  • Identify yourself and your dental practice.
  • State exposure without disclosing any personal information—“We have a team member that tested positive for COVID-19.”
  • Express concern about the exposure.
  • List protocols currently in place to help prevent virus transmission. Explain that adherence to strict infection control protocols make the risk of virus transmission extremely low.
  • List internal post-exposure mitigation steps taken. Reinforce that the health of safety of your patients and your team is your top priority.
  • Close with emphasis on transparency and open communication. Tell the patient you will keep them informed.

In addition to TDA working with Governor Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to secure PPE for dentists, TDA has been simultaneously working with the Department of State Health Services to ensure that dentists can access PPE through the state’s Regional Advisory Councils (RAC). Here’s how that works:

When Texas dentists exhaust all options to obtain PPE, and are nearing depletion, they may submit a request for a PPE distribution through a State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR). The RACs will work with the county medical societies to fairly distribute the requested PPE across the state as needs arise. The PPE receive through this request and distribution system is free to those who qualify.

Each RAC may process STAR applications differently. Be sure to follow the directions to complete the STAR for the RAC servicing your area. You will need to provide all relevant details for your request, to include type of item, point of contact information, and delivery address.