Patient care and stress: Looking out for changes in your patients

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Based on location, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our society vary in severity and intensity.

Lynne Leggett.Lynne Leggett.

With practices in many parts of the country only recently being able to open for nonemergency care, there has been a great deal of focus on costs and cash flow. These are particularly important things for the dental business. I know different Facebook groups and other articles and webinars have been concentrating on these subjects, so much so that I want to focus on an aspect of patient care that is easy to overlook.

When you get the opportunity to see your patients again, think about the stress that everyone has been under in recent weeks. Not only is simply living during the pandemic stressful, but working parents have also had to figure out how to home-school their children while working from home. According to a recent article, about 60% of workers reported that they have had no outside help in caring for and educating their children during the pandemic.

There are certainly other potential sources of stress as well. Maybe some high school and college graduates are not coping well with all of the traditions that never happened. Maybe there has been an illness in the family that is not related to COVID-19 but could not be treated since elective surgeries were all postponed. Maybe aging parents were placed somewhere else during this pandemic to keep them safe. Maybe there has been a death in the family and traditional funeral services could not be held.

I bring up these various points to demonstrate that many of your patients have had their lives turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Don't be surprised if your patients may need to talk with you about their circumstances, and you may see some unhealthy responses to the stress they have been under.

As the oral physician, hygienist, or assistant, I suggest adding a question to ask during your time with your patients. That question could be something like, "How are you dealing with the stress during this pandemic?" This is a great question to get the patient talking and find out how he or she is really doing and if there are some healthy options you can recommend.

I am sure some patients have been eating too many calories or increased their alcohol consumption, and these things can certainly affect the body. You may also be the first health professional your patients have seen since the pandemic started. Please keep all of this in mind when scheduling your patient time.

I have always said dentistry is all about relationships, and strengthening your bond of trust with your patients is always important -- and even more so during this pandemic.

You can hear more of my thoughts on stress and your patients below.

Lynne Leggett is the founder and CEO of Victory Dental Management. She has more than 25 years of business experience in several industries, including dentistry, medical, pharmacy, sales, transportation, logistics, and project management. Learn more about her and her services, including the Evolve program, on the Victory Dental Management website.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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