It was the week before a long-planned spring break trip with my family that anxiety really began to build about COVID-19. Like most of you, I had been following the news since February and was trying to understand all the implications of this threat, personally and professionally. The second week of March, I made the decision to cancel our trip—my wife spent hours on hold with the hotel and airline. On March 16th, I made the tough decision to close the dental practice due to growing safety concerns. Very little was known about COVID-19 then. For a time, I felt we were in a free fall, not knowing what was happening to our world. The next day, elected leaders started shutting things down around the state and nation. Quickly, I had to process that my family—my immediate family as well as my dental office family—needed leadership and direction. Was I going to be able to provide it?
This virus doesn’t fit neatly into any system of order that makes sense. I struggled with this concept because, as a dentist, I like structure and order. However, after my wife and I talked, we knew we must move forward from a position of strength, and restore as much normalcy as possible while living in a real pandemic.
First, creating healthy home meals became a priority. Second, we focused on getting outside for walks, bike riding, or any other form of exercise. Getting our teenage boys to join was difficult but worth it for high-quality family time. Next, we sought advice from local advisors in banking, finance, and healthcare to put sensible strategies around each component. Healthy supplementation became part of our family regimen. Handing out appropriate dosage levels of multivitamins, zinc, omega 3, and vitamin D3 is now a daily activity. Taking a moment each day to reflect and be grateful was the biggest struggle, but perhaps the most important. Lastly, we were early adopters of social distancing and masks. Evening conversations with friends and neighbors on front lawns in distanced camp chairs became an important tool for us all to discuss what was happening to the world and each other.
I continued to go to my office daily. It took all day, every day to plan our office re-opening on May 4th. I’m very proud of what our team has created, but how could we take our practice’s vision of “Oklahoma’s Best Dental Experience” and still reopen safely?
While seeing 3-5 emergency dental appointments per week, our team brainstormed to come up with a new game plan of processes and procedures to ensure a safe experience and working environment. As always, the Grand Dental Studio team is the best trained dental team in Oklahoma. They showed their passion for excellence during this time, and our patients have been relieved and pleased to come back to a pleasant experience within a safe environment.
We have been operating with 22 new safety and sanitation protocols for over three months now.
Safety, sanitation, and extreme cleanliness have always been a top priority for our dental practice. Our office team has followed infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We constantly review our safety, sanitation, and infection control processes so that when patients receive care, it’s both safe and comfortable.
This has been a most difficult period in dentistry as well as for many other small businesses. The key to moving through this challenge is, in my opinion, to rise to the occasion and rededicate ourselves to offering the safest possible patient care using the newest proven technologies in a caring environment. Your health, safety, and smile all come first at Grand Dental Studio.
—Michael Kirk, DDS