Based on Manitoba’s latest update on the phased reopening of the province’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic, Manitoba dentists are allowed to open their practices on Monday, but they’re not doing so without some anxiety.
Dr. Alan Grant of Kildonan Place Dental Centre in Winnipeg told 680 CJOB the reopening is “bittersweet.”
“I’m really happy to be getting ready to open, but I’m kind of not quite there yet, because of lack of protective equipment, and just functional changes we have to do with the office to make it safe for both the staff and patients,” he said.
“I’m happy that the premier is opening us up, but I’m hoping it’s not too soon because we don’t have the support for PPEs (personal protective equipment) just yet.”
Grant said he’s hoping to see something set up for dentists to be able to tests patients, so they can triage them as high- or low-risk, and do different procedures on different days to address those groups.
“Right now, we’re kind of going in blind because we don’t know if patients have been exposed or if they’re carriers that are asymptomatic, so it’s going to be a very stressful time,” he said.
“We all take this very seriously. I certainly don’t want my staff to get sick or anybody, because then it’s another 14 days of quarantine and they could shut us down again.
“That’s why I don’t think I’ll be fully operational for maybe even another month, but we will still do emergency treatments and those kinds of things.”
Grant said his practice is caught between a rock and a hard place — they want to open, but they’re not quite ready without a steady supply of protective equipment during this transition period.
Trina Bourgeois of the Manitoba Dental Assistants Association told 680 CJOB there’s a lot of anxiety among her organization’s members as well.
“Dental assistants are feeling a little anxious about being able to do their job properly and offering the right service to the right people,” she said.
“It’s something that everybody’s sort of sitting at the edge of their seats waiting for.”
Bourgeois said the role of dental assistants — acting as the communication between the dentist and patient, as well as providing proper cleaning, disinfecting and sterilization — means they’re quite vulnerable, especially at a time when there are limited resources as far as PPE is concerned.