Open up: Virginia dentists see nonemergency patients with measures in place

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order prohibiting elective surgeries and limiting dental procedures expired last week and was not renewed. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Harbucks)

Now that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has lifted restrictions to allow nonemergency visits to the doctor and dentist, Loudoun County orthodontist Neal Kravitz is relieved to be back in his offices.

“I don’t think I’ve ever missed six days of work in my life, let alone six weeks,” Kravitz said. “I’ve never taken a week off, even when I got married.”

Since late March, Kravitz has seen patients to treat emergency situations — a broken appliance that would prevent a child from eating, for instance — while resorting to technology to assist with nuisance problems, such as a broken braces wires.

“My phone has been ringing nonstop, and I’ve been walking people through handling their own emergencies,” on the Zoom video conferencing platform, he said.

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Now that he is able to see nonemergency patients in his South Riding and Ashburn offices, Kravitz said the main priority is ensuring social distancing to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Certainly we’re all wearing goggles, gowns, aprons, gloves and the higher level face masks or shields,” Kravitz said.

The most important step is reducing patient volume, he said.

“We’re seeing patients in every other [treatment room],” Kravitz said. “We’re restricting the number of chairs in the waiting room, so there can only be one or two people.”

When patients arrive for an appointment, Kravitz said they check-in from their car.

“So, they text us when they arrive, and then we call them to come in,” Kravitz said. “It’s a slower, very controlled pace.”

Lower patient volume means Kravitz will be working seven days a week, and long hours.

“It’s much more important to do that than try to jam in patients to make up lost [business],” Kravitz said. “It’s really about perfect OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) at this point.”

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