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Smiling Through the Mask: Running A Business During A Pandemic


“It was honestly scary not knowing what was going to happen, how long we would have to shut down the office for and what the atmosphere was going to be like once we reopened. ”- Melanie Lee

Melanie Lee has been the Office Manager of Dr. Charles E. Lee, III, a dentist office located in Flowery Branch, GA, for almost 18 years. Neither her, nor Dr. Lee, have ever experienced anything like this since opening the practice in 2003. “We had to shut down completely, not seeing patients and front door locked, for 6 weeks.” During this time, their main concern was office overhead, revenue flow, and not being able to service the community.

During the complete shutdown phase of the pandemic, Dr. Lee and Melanie Lee attended a handful of webinars to get instruction on how to reopen the practice and how to keep themselves and patients safe.  “When we were allowed to open back up and start seeing patients again, there were a lot of rules put in place and new regulations we had to follow and if we did not follow them, we could get into serious trouble.” Starting in May of 2020, the Governor of Georgia allowed dental practices to resume business and with this the American Dental Association gave a list of things to do to keep all individuals, patient and staff, in the dental office safe.

“Beginning in the morning we disinfect surfaces and each room. When patients arrive, they must have on a mask and they get their temperature taken. If they are under 100.4 degrees then they are allowed to step inside the waiting area where they are required to fill out a Covid-19 questionnaire and only one to two individuals are allowed in the waiting room at a time, others are asked to wait outside.”

The Covid-19 questionnaire contains questions such as: Do you have any of the following symptoms? When was the last time you came into contact with someone who has tested positive? Have you had Covid-19?  The questionnaire is very thorough.

“The staff, hygienists and Dr. Lee, wears their scrubs, disposable isolation gowns, N-95 respirator masks and face shields. I wear only a face mask.” Melanie Lee says, as the Office Manager, she stays up front and when patients check out, she is behind a plexiglass shield. “In between each patient we use a hospital grade disinfectant to clean the chairs, surfaces and anything else anyone has touched in the treatment room.”

After the business day has ended and only staff are left in the office, they begin end of day cleaning. On top of things like vacuuming and taking out the trash, they once again disinfect all rooms and front areas of the office with the hospital grade disinfectant and each staff member put their lab jackets into a bin that is then taken to be thoroughly washed.

“Some patients were hesitant to get back into the office when we called to tell them we had reopened.” In the beginning, their schedule had open gaps because people were nervous to return to a place of higher risk. As time went on and more people began to start getting out, patients started coming back in. “Fast forward to this year and almost all patients are back and we couldn’t be happier to service them and see them while keeping them safe.”

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    Cathy PurcellJan 28, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    They are awesome and we as patients felt very comfortable coming back to see our Great Dentist and Staff!

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Smiling Through the Mask: Running A Business During A Pandemic