Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): A dental practice management emergency preparedness plan

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

March 17, 2020 -- COVID-19 emergency preparedness plan, page 2

3. Doctor coverage

Doctors are often the last ones to think that they will be affected, but they are just as susceptible as anyone else. Perhaps even more so because of the volume of patients coming through the practice. Even if you have associates or partners, you must determine how you handle patient care if one or more doctors in your practice are exposed to COVID-19. Also, keep in mind that if a doctor or team member is exposed, you may need to close the entire office and have everyone self-quarantine.

If the doctor is diagnosed with COVID-19 (or any illness suspected of possibly being COVID-19), what is your plan for patient care?

We strongly suggest that you write scripts now and have them ready in the event of this situation. You want to be able to quickly communicate with patients without creating fear. You want to let patients know that all safety precautions are being taken.

Determine your coverage plan. For solo practice dentists, be sure to identify other dentists who will make themselves available to cover if you must be out of the office or you for them. You may even consider certain specialists, such as oral surgeons and endodontists, who may agree to provide emergency care for your patients should the need arise.

4. Staff coverage

Plan for staff coverage if a team member is out. Some practices have a large enough team, with cross-trained staff to easily cover someone who is out, but many others do not. Document in advance, position by position, how you will handle it if a team member is out of the office for any period.

You might also consider asking part-time team members if they would like to work extra days or shortening office hours if necessary. In extreme circumstances, you may consider asking if any staff members might be able to shift vacations until we move through all this.

5. Contact temporary agencies

Proactively establish a relationship with a temporary employment agency now, even if you don't have an immediate need. You simply want to find out how the agency works, if it has available labor and what positions it can temporarily fill if a team member goes out on short-term absence. Create a job profile for each position so that you can hire emergency labor if any team members are out or need to go on longer-term leave.

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