Category Archives: Blog

Welcome Dental Hygienist Stephanie!

Welcome Stephanie, our New Dental Hygienist

We are excited to welcome a new dental hygienist, Stephanie, to the practice! Stephanie will be working three days a week and is looking forward to getting to know our patients.

Long time patients know we have very little turnover with our staff. This allows our office to develop relationships with patients over many years. For the last several years, Lee Ann, our full-time hygienist, as well as Jane, Judy B. and Judy A have comprised our hygiene team. Lee Ann has been at our office for 22 years, and Jane first worked with Dr. Albers (and assistant Susan) at his first dental position, back in 1987. Judy B and Judy A are more recent additions, both bringing significant experience to the office. Between Lee Ann’s schedule, the regular days worked by Jane and Judy B, and Judy A’s several days per month, we were averaging a little over 6 days of hygiene during our 4 day work week.

Staffing Changes

Earlier this year, Lee Ann indicated that after 43 years as a full time hygienist, she was ready to think about cutting back her schedule. And Judy A, whose husband recently retired, indicated that she wanted to move to a position of filling in when she’s needed and available rather than scheduling set days each month. While the COVID shutdowns sent many plans into a pause for 6 weeks, our hygiene staff was reaching out to fellow hygienists about someone who might be a good fit for our office. Through the grapevine, staff members who knew a former dental hygiene school classmate of Stephanie’s learned she was interested in making a change. After discussions and observing Stephanie in the office, we knew she would be a great addition.

New Hygiene Lineup

Having Stephanie on staff, working three days a week, will allow Lee Ann to cut back to two days per week. Jane and Judy B will continue to work their regular Tuesday/Thursday schedules. Altogether, this gives us an extra day of hygiene each week (7 instead of 6).  Considering all the hygiene appointments cancelled during the shutdown,  this will help us move more quickly through the backlog of cleaning appointments.

We appreciate all of our patients, and appreciate that you trust us with your dental care. We are looking forward to introducing you to Stephanie so that you can see for yourself what a great addition she is to our team!

Reopening After Covid-19

Reopening After COVID-19 – Slowly But Surely

It hasn’t been a smooth process, partly due to conflicting information coming from the state.  However, we are open with all staff members now scheduling to see patients.

First Delay in Reopening After Covid-19

We were initially notified by the state that dental offices could reopen on April 27, hence, the title of our last blog post.  Unfortunately, in the middle of a meeting at the office on Friday, April 24 to review new procedures and protocols, DORA notified dental providers that they could not open pending further guidance from the governor.  That finally arrived on the evening of April 28, but the guidance was so confusing, a modified Public Health Order had to be issued a week or so later.  We are now in the newest phase of reopening, with yet more confusing guidance in an updated PHO issued at the end of May.

New Procedures

In our last blog post, we described what to expect when you come to the office.  A big concern is that with offices reopening, we’ll see a spike in new COVID-19 cases.  To guard against this, we currently pre-screen all scheduled patients prior to their arrival at our office.  And, we take everyone’s temperate when they first arrive.

We have really appreciated the patience of our patients!  From taking time out of busy days to answer screening questions prior to coming to the office, to not being able to see our staffs’ smiling faces behind facemask, everyone has been very accommodating.  In fact, we have noted a real relief among patients that they are finally able to get out and attend to everyday tasks – such as routine dental care.

Newest CDC information

Several of us watched a webinar from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reviewing their interim guidance for dental offices.  Importantly, CDC experts relayed that to date, there have been no documented cases of COVID-19 transmission in a dental setting.  Some dental office employees have contracted the virus.  However, CDC investigations have shown that none of these cases are associated with work in the dental office.  It is suspected that the virus was circulating prior to shutdowns.  This suggests that routine infection control processes followed by dentists – even before enhanced procedures were implemented – makes it difficult for the virus to be transmitted during dental care.

Community Support

One difficulty for non-front-line health care providers has been getting adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).  PPE includes things like masks and gloves.  Following the outbreak, state and national associations started recommending the use of face shields during dental procedures.  With equipment being diverted to those areas experiencing significant outbreaks, a lot of PPE has been on back order.  Local businesses stepped up to the plate to help, including a local plastics company.  They gave health care providers 10-packs of face shields.  The picture above shows Susan modeling one.  We really appreciate businesses and individuals who reached out to help others in the community.

Office Reopening April 27, 2020

Office to Reopen Monday, April 27, 2020

On March 18th we closed our office, except for emergency dental care, due to the COVID 19 coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, April 20, Governor Polis announced that Colorado’s stay-at-home order would not be extended past April 26. He further endorsed a gradual reopening of businesses, including dental offices. Our office will reopen on Monday, April 27, 2020.

What to Expect When We Reopen

We are utilizing information from state health resources and also the Colorado and American Dental Associations. Suffice it to say that things will look different when you return to the office. In the reception room, reading materials and our mission trip photo albums have been removed.  This will help prevent inadvertent transfer of the virus. Some patients may choose to remain in their cars in the parking lot until notified to come in. We will request that you observe social distance seating in the reception area.

We are also working to identify patients with potential risk factors and discuss whether treatment should be postponed until we understand the virus better. High risk patients include, for example, those 65 or older, those with chronic conditions such as obesity, lung disease, respiratory conditions, or who live in nursing homes. There are additional conditions that might push someone into a high-risk category and we will want to discuss this with you in more detail.

The biggest change you will notice is the coronavirus screening questionnaire all patients will be required to fill out and sign before being treated. The screening form will ask questions related to your exposure/possible exposure to COVID 19, as well as symptoms associated with the virus such as a fever over 100.5 degrees, dry cough, loss of smell or taste, etc. We will also be taking patient temperatures before we treat patients and will likely not treat you if your temperature is elevated.

We have always adhered to rigorous sterilization and disinfection protocols, but we will be even more vigilant in keeping our office safe for patients and staff. During the initial relaxation of the stay-at-home order, we will be wearing masks during the entirety of your appointment. Staff will be taking their own temperatures several times per day.

We will also minimize contact during appointment checkout.  For example, we may ask patients to insert their credit cards into our credit card machine. When the virus first appeared, we started disinfecting pens in between use, and will continue this practice.

Reduced Staff

We have several staff members in a higher risk category or who have family members  at high risk. For that reason, you will not be seeing some of those familiar friendly faces when we initially reopen. We hope that scientists will quickly identify the best ways to detect and treat the virus.  We look forward to the day when everyone is back at the office providing the wonderful care our patients have come to appreciate.

Wear Your Masks Into Our Office

While the stay-at-home order has been lifted, Colorado is moving to a “Safer at Home” phase per the governor’s office.  People are encourage to wear masks when away from home.  We would encourage our patients to wear their masks when they come into our office so as to help contain spread of the virus.

Going Forward

We are in new territory as we return to work with this virus still circulating. Patient and staff safety is very important to us.  Dr. Albers is closely monitoring all new developments and will modify office protocols as best practices evolve.
Our entire staff values the relationships and friendships we have developed with many of you over many years. We are excited to reopen and look forward to seeing you in the office in the very near future.

Possible April Appointment Cancellations

Email notifications have gone out to patients with appointments scheduled through the end of April.  This notification is for patients who received text messages about possible appointment cancellations.

Office Closed Through April 13, 2020

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our office is closed until April 14 except for emergency dental care.  Recommendations, however, are changing day by day.   It is possible Governor Polis will order dental offices to stay closed past April 14.

We are monitoring the situation closely and if the current closure order is extended, we will contact you to postpone currently scheduled treatment.  If you are taken out of the schedule, please note that we are keeping a list and you and other bumped patients will receive priority once the office is allowed to reopen for routine dental care.

What You Need To Do

At the present time, there is nothing you need to do.  If we need to postpone treatment, Michele will reach out to you personally.  Although not in the office on a daily basis, she is monitoring messages several times a day.  And, if you have a dental emergency, please call our office number and press “1” when directed.  This will connect you directly to Dr. Albers.

Email Addresses

Information above was detailed in an email to patients who had email addresses on file.  If you received a text message about possible closures but would prefer emails in the future, please leave this information for Michele at 719-634-8458.  Because of text character limitations, we are limited in information we can provide via text.

Thank you for your continued patience as we work through these office closures together.  We appreciate our patients and hope to be able to see you soon.

 

Office Closure Update March 23, 2020

We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy as we all grapple with the novel COVID-19 outbreak.  And, we wanted to provide you with an update of our office closure.

Closed as of Last Week

As noted in our last blog post, we received a notice from the Colorado Dental Association (CDA) after close of business Monday, March 16.  The notice asked dentists to close their offices for three weeks due to coronavirus concerns.  Michele has been busy calling patients regarding our office closure.  The schedule has been cleared for the next several weeks.

At the present time, Michele is not rescheduling patients as it is very unclear when these office closure requirements will be lifted.  She is creating a priority list of patients bumped out of the schedule.  Once we get confirmation that we can reopen, these patients will be added back to the schedule first.

Still Treating Emergencies

Per request from the CDA, emergency dental care is still being offered.  Patients with dental emergencies are required to fill out a coronavirus questionnaire and temperatures are being taken.  If a patient is exhibiting signs consistent with coronavirus, it is possible they will be referred to an office with the specialized protective equipment needed to safely provide treatment.

In the Meantime

Since we are seeing very few patients, we decided it was a good time to spruce up the office.  It’s likely that the next time you visit the office, you will see (and smell) new paint and notice some new accessories.  In fact, that’s what the picture above shows.  We suspect many of you are doing similar things at home.

We want to again thank all of our wonderful patients for their patience as we work through this situation together.  Please don’t hesitate to call the office, 719-634-8458, if you have any questions about your dental health.  And remember, you can find updated information on the coronavirus in our community at the El Paso County Public Health site.  Stay safe!

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Mark T. Albers, D.D.S.
2155 Hollowbrook Drive
Suite 20
Colorado Springs, CO
80918

(719) 634-8458

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To schedule an appointment, call:
(719) 634-8458

General Hours: Labor Day through Memorial Day

Monday – Thursday:
8:00a.m. – 1:00p.m., 2:00p.m. – 5:00p.m.

Summer Hours: Memorial Day through Labor Day

Monday – Wednesday
7:30a.m. – 12:30p.m., 1:30p.m. – 4:30p.m.

Thursday
7:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.