Westfield Practice Takes to the Air in Battle Against Infection
Before COVID-19, constant handwashing and surface disinfecting were already everyday practices for dentists like Dr. Bryan Kasperowski of Kasperowski Family Dentistry in Westfield.
Since the virus hit, however, he has put additional safeguards in place, including air-filtration units in all treatment rooms. “The wild card is the airborne component of the virus,” he told HCN. “That has everyone concerned.”
Each cylinder-shaped unit measures one foot in diameter and stands nearly three feet tall — and takes just five minutes to scrub the air to surgical operating-room standards. Each unit is equipped with six filters and a special UV light, and even if the nastiest particulate makes it through all that, it has to face one last step.
“The wild card is the airborne component of the virus. That has everyone concerned.”
“At the end of the process, the particulate gets ionized, which makes it heavy, so, rather than floating in the air, it falls to the ground,” Kasperowski said.
Air filtration is only one of the changes patients will see as they return to the office. Protocols such as wearing face masks, screening patients, and social distancing will also be in full force. So patients know what to expect when they visit, the practice has published instructions on its website and Google Business pages. There’s even a YouTube video of Kasperowski doing a walk-through at the office.
“We’re doing all this to minimize confusion and answer people’s questions on where they should be and where to go,” he said.
Before the appointment begins, initial patient screening and temperature taking will be done in the treatment room, to keep the individual safely apart from others. If the patient passes all the criteria, he or she can remove the mask and rinse with hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse, which has been shown to deactivate the virus.
Because the office is laid out in a circular pattern, Kasperowski said it’s easy to maintain safe distancing. “It’s almost like a supermarket where you have arrows on the floor to keep people going in the same direction to avoid any criss-cross movements.”
Appointments will be staggered 15 minutes apart to prevent too many people from being in the office at one time. To make this work for everyone, Kasperowski is asking his patients to be prompt for their appointment times.
When the office was shut down, the office was still handling emergency cases, serving a kind of triage function to prevent sending people to hospital emergency rooms. As he begins to open to more patients, Kasperowski is hopeful about restarting routine hygiene services.
“As we open for more appointments, we will be starting slowly. In the beginning, we’re not going to pack our schedule like we usually do.”
By gradually ramping up activity, he wants to give his staff a chance to get used to what has certainly become the new normal.