**STATEMENT ON COVID-19**
Dear Families of Lahair and Gallagher Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics,
Starting Monday, March 16, 2020 and tentatively extending to May 4, 2020, in accordance with the latest guidance from the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), we will be limiting patient care to emergency treatment only (i.e. significant pain, trauma, infection). If you have a scheduled appointment, we will be in touch with you to notify you of the cancellation. When it is safe to resume normal operations, we will contact you to reschedule. In interim, we plan to have limited business hours from 9am until 1pm Monday through Friday to address any dental or orthodontic emergencies that may arise. If you have questions or concerns, you may still reach us by phone during our modified business hours at 508-854-9994. As always, if your child has a dental or orthodontic emergency outside of these normal business hours, you will be able to reach a doctor by phone after hours by calling 508-854-9994.
This decision was not made lightly, but it is necessary in order to protect our patients and staff after reading the updated recommendations from the MDS, CDC and OSHA. OSHA and the CDC have just released new and more stringent guidelines that require the acquisition and use of new personal protective equipment (PPE; i.e. N95 masks) and changes to office protocols related to patient care and staff safety. Certain dental procedures that use a highspeed handpiece (“the drill”) generate a large number of droplets and aerosols. The latest guidelines are that our standard personal protective equipment is not effective enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19, if aerosols are produced. This is especially unique to our profession as children are being found to be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. This means that standard screening (asking about travel history, exposure history, asking about signs and symptoms specific to COVID-19 and taking the child’s temperature) are no longer considered effective in capturing all who may be infected with the virus. Working on an asymptomatic child using the high-speed handpiece may still result in the virus being airborne in our office for up to 3-hours, and we are not comfortable with the potential spread of this virus to our other patients, families and staff.
OSHA has placed dental professionals in the “very high exposure risk” category in regard to COVID-19. Current recommendations are that dentists wear N95 masks for dental treatment during this pandemic. However, not only are these masks extremely difficult to obtain at this time, but most importantly, they need to be conserved for other professions that are at the forefront of fighting this virus.
A great deal of care, research, and planning guides our decisions. We will continue to evaluate the situation as it evolves and determine on a daily and weekly basis when it is safe for us to return to our normal business operations. Should you wish to understand further the benefit of social separation, we encourage you to read the attached article:
Drs. Lahair and McGary