DENTAL OFFICES: OPENING AGAIN (Now What?)
As some states are nearing the end of their Safer-at-Home mandates, dental offices will start re-opening. If you are not sure about what the most up-to-date information is, the ADA has a great resource with updates on state mandates and state dental association recommendations. (See Fig. 1) For many offices, re-opening dates are tentative, but there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. The new reality of opening a dental health care facility on the heels of a pandemic is drawing closer.
DENTAL OFFICES: OPENING AGAIN (Now What?)
Apr 30, 2020 | News
By Rae Senger
This is the first in the series on navigating a smooth transition as you prepare to re-open.
The Flood Gates Will Open!
At first blush, a steady stream of patients clamoring for appointments sounds like a dentist’s dream. But social distancing guidelines, added staffing concerns with FMLA and childcare, safety considerations and a backlog of patients who have been unable to keep their appointments in the past month(s) will pose scheduling challenges. A solid plan for navigating these concerns will put you on a fast-track to re-building your business.
Understanding Your Staffs’ Schedules
As you start planning to reopen your office, consider what your goals will be, including how many appointments you hope to do each week to start getting caught up. From there, consider how you will build your schedule and anticipate any scheduling challenges you may face. Will your own staff be able to come back full time? And, if they can, will they be able to flex their hours? If you have not already done so, reach out and find out which employees are ready to come back full time and can handle expanded or flexible hours.
Some may have FMLA/Family Care Act concerns. Some will be juggling childcare schedules or making decisions on what to do with kids if summer programs do not re-open. Some may be immuno-compromised or have a family-member who is. Communicate with your staff proactively to prepare them with for your expectations for their return. Do not assume you know what is going on. Remember, not everyone on your team will want or be able to adjust their schedules! Communication early on is key.
Be honest and flexible with your staff letting them know what you need and why. Let them know what you are doing to make the workplace environment safe for them and listen to their feedback and concerns. Lead your team with positivity and purpose, and this can be an employee retention opportunity.
No matter what your reality is, set up a schedule based on the resources you have and then make an ideal schedule. If you are lucky enough that the two look the same, great! If that is NOT your reality, consider looking at some staffing resources.
Related articles in this series: COMING SOON
- Maintaining a Safe Workplace Environment
- Getting the word out to Patients … We are ready for you!
- Strategic Planning … Which patients do you see first?
- COVID-19 Guidelines to Add to your SOP
Fig. 1 Check out this interactive link from the ADA Center for Professional Success which is updated daily. Follow this link and click on your state.
Can’t click the link, access it here:
Gearing Up for an Influx of Patients: Navigating Scheduling Complexities
With social distance guidelines in place and with increased time necessary for thorough disinfecting processes, the reality is you may not be able to see as many patients during a day as you use to. There are some different ways to balance keeping a steady flow of patients without putting anyone at unnecessary risk. In order to decrease the number of staff within the office, consider extending your hours for hygiene appointments and limiting the number of hygienists in office per day. Adding a day or two to your schedule would assist in that catch up without requiring all hygienists to be in office working in close proximity to each other. While these adjustments may pose some different scheduling challenges, it is a relatively easy way to reduce the number of people in office without slowing down your efforts to see as many patients as possible.
Additionally, if you are an office that is lucky enough to have a previously under-utilized operatory available, get it stocked and available to rotate into. Staff can thoroughly clean one operatory while patients are cared for in the other. If you and your team routinely travel between two offices, consider adding temporary professionals to keep both open simultaneously.
Adding Staffing Resources
Adding locum tenens dentists and additional teammates to help with the overflow is an excellent option. Professionals who are not on your own payroll but who could be available to see extra patients, cover added hours or fill in for your own team member who may not be able to return right away are an excellent resource. If you generally rotate staff between two or more offices, adding additional teammates to keep both offices going simultaneously for a while is a great option.
A reputable staffing agency that can take care of payroll and year-end reporting, credentialing and background checks, malpractice and workers comp is a good resource. Choose one that is also prepared to monitor health and safety for added team members.
Were You Fully Staffed Before the Pandemic Struck?
If not, maybe that was a silver lining. As the horizon clears, now might be a great time to put some recruiting efforts into adding to or re-building your team. Some professionals will be taking this time to re-evaluate their careers, and some will be looking for new opportunities. A staffing agency that is equipped to help with permanent placements as well as providing temporary staff will be a valuable resource for you as a way to connect with highly qualified professionals who are on a soft search for a new employer.
Complete Dental Staffing is prepared to help you navigate your staffing concerns. As a complete staffing solutions provider, we can help with your temporary needs as well as your long-term goals. We are also prepared to manage health and safety concerns for the staff we place with you.
Complete Dental Staffing can help you with your bounce back plan.
As soon as it is safe and legal in your state (stay up to date with ADA Center for Professional Success) we want to get our field staff doing what they do best… providing an extra pair of hands to care for your patients when you need them the most.
Let us know how we can help.