Nation wide, there are approximately 2 million visits to emergency departments for dental related issues each year. When the decision was made in the early stages of the pandemic to reduce elective surgeries and hospital visits, something needed to be done with patients presenting to the ER with dental issues. Due to the shortage of PPE across the nation, dental practices were ordered to close for routine visits, leaving PHS with a unique opportunity to stay open for these dental emergency patients.
Dr. Emming, Dr. Phillips, and the dental staff at our Hamilton 2nd Street location saw 860 dental emergency patients in approximately three months. “Most people that go into dentistry want to help people and of that segment, people who go into public health want really to help a lot of people,” said Dr. Emming. Helping a lot of people is exactly what the dental team did. By taking care of the hospital’s dental emergencies, it helped position the hospitals to be able to focus on providing care for those with COVID-19. “This is what we want to do, and we wouldn’t have been able to without Primary Health Solutions [staying open for emergency dental services],” said Dr. Phillips.
So much was unknown at the beginning of the pandemic. Patients were scared; unsure if it was safe to come in the center and receive care. Dr. Emming and Dr. Phillips were confident in their ability to keep patients, themselves, and the other staff members in the dental center safe. This was in part a result of their experience working through the AIDS Epidemic in the 1980s. During that epidemic, many changes occurred in dental offices regarding the level of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the sterilization of equipment. These changes created a much safer environment for both patients, and dental staff.
Due to the shortage of PPE, Dr. Phillips and Dr. Emming were not able to change their face masks between patients. Other than that, their daily routine didn’t change much. “We were not going to have to change much at all in our daily routine to keep the patients safe and us safe. We did a lot more dental emergencies than we were used to on a daily basis, but we did it in the same manner that we’ve always done” says Dr. Phillips.
We continue to practice standard universal precautions, appropriate PPE and equipment sanitation to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff.
To learn more, watch our video about Dr. Emming and Dr. Phillips’ experience.