Sick days slice into your profit margin, so they're something you want as few of as possible. Here's how you can help your dental team stay healthy during cold and flu season and beyond.
Create Hygiene Stations Around Your Dental Office
Poor hygiene is one of the primary causes of the spread of germs and viruses in a dental practice. Set up "hygiene stations" around your office where employees can quickly access disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, and masks.
Ideally, you should have one in your reception area, your lab, your x-ray area, and each patient room. Busy employees are much more likely to use hygiene items if they're nearby.
Encourage Frequent (and Good!) Handwashing
Surprisingly, many medical professionals — including dental assistants, hygienists, and administrative staff — don't wash their hands frequently enough. When they do, they're unlikely to wash their hands for the appropriate length of time or scrub their nails. Encourage your employees to do more than a quick rinse by educating them on proper handwashing techniques and the consequences of not washing often or well enough.
Disinfect Between Appointments and at the End of the Day
Even though you're not seeing sick patients, it's still important to disinfect your exam and procedure rooms in between each patient, and again at the end of the day before you close the office. Small rooms may have poor ventilation, making them the perfect breeding ground for harmful germs. Disinfecting helps keep these spaces sanitary, destroying any bacteria or viruses that patients may be bringing in (before they have a chance to spread).
Give Patients Access to Hand Sanitizer and Masks
If you have a hygiene station set up in your reception area, your patients already have access to masks and hand sanitizer. However, they may not be aware that you have such a station set up or when they need to use it.
Post signage in your reception area that asks patients who are coughing or feeling ill to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer frequently. You may also want to ask patients with cold sores to reschedule their visit for when they are not having an outbreak.
Offer Training in Proper PPE Use
PPE, or personal protective equipment, is potentially critical for the health and safety of your employees. However, many dental professionals may be unsure of how to use PPE properly. For example, sterile gloves are put on differently from boxed gloves to keep them sterile. Failure to do so may compromise the cleanliness of procedures.
While not a significant issue for dental cleanings, it can increase the risk of infection and other complications of more involved procedures like root canals and dental implants. Hold training seminars or working lunches where you regularly educate employees on the proper use of PPE.
Discuss Sick Day and Time Off Policies
Your employees were likely informed of your sick day and time off policies when they were hired, but have they gotten a refresher? It may be a good idea to consider sending out a reminder memo to your dental team before cold and flu season outlining the basics of the policies. Everyone will appreciate being on the same page about what is and isn't acceptable when the time comes to take a sick day.
Educate Employees About Healthy Habits at Home
Your patients aren't your only threat when it comes to bringing viruses and bacteria into your dental office. Your employees are too, and if they don't exhibit healthy habits at home, they could unwittingly be spreading germs around the practice. Educate your team on how they can stay healthy at home, especially if they have children who may be bringing cold or flu viruses home from school. Purchase extra disinfectant wipes and encourage employees to take them home.
Reward Employees For Good Health
Staying healthy takes time and dedication. Many of your team members are at capacity with work and family and creating healthy habits may not seem worth the effort. Consider giving your employees incentives for good health. Just be wary of creating a culture in which coming to work while sick is rewarded. Also, make sure to review with an HR or legal professional about any limitations related to giving incentives to those who are healthier.
The Importance of Creating a Health-Focused Culture for Your Dental Practice Team
Creating a health-focused culture for your dental office is likely crucial not only for keeping your employees well and at work, but also for your patients. Patients look to your staff as examples of oral care and healthy habits. When your employees are educated and empowered to be knowledgable on healthy practices, they often share that information with patients. This helps to increase patient awareness of healthy habits, benefiting your practice even more.
About Treloar & Heisel
Treloar & Heisel is a premier financial services provider to dental and medical professionals across the country. We assist thousands of clients from residency to practice and through retirement with a comprehensive suite of financial services, custom-tailored advice, and a strong national network focused on delivering the highest level of service.
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Risk Management are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Insurance products are offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Treloar & Heisel, Inc. and its divisions do not offer human resources or legal advice. Please consult a professional concerning these topics.