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Grand Marais Family Dentistry Answers Your Questions about Visits During a Pandemic

Sep 02, 2020 06:22AM ● By Editor
“Something to Smile About” by Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux for Grand Marais Family Dentistry - September 2, 2020

There’s still laughter and good conversation at Grand Marais Family Dentistry these days—it’s just a bit muffled by the masks and protective face shields. Though the lobby is intentionally empty, cars line the street as a sort of drive-in waiting room where patients wait for a text, a call, or an old-fashioned wave to come on in.

Like many businesses, the dental office closed this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. What you may not know is that after creating a Preparedness Plan in compliance with Minnesota Dentistry Association guidelines, they reopened in May, first for emergencies and then for all dental services, including routine cleanings.

The American Dental Association (ADA) calls dentistry, “essential health care,” pointing to the “window” oral health provides to the body’s overall status, but the staff at Grand Marais Family Dentistry understand you probably have some questions and concerns. Owner Alyssa Hedstrom, D.D.S. says, “Our goal is for people’s oral health needs to be met in a way that makes them feel safe.” As such, the standard sanitation protocols have been elevated, and dental staff are masked, shielded, gloved, gowned—or all of the above depending on the nature of each patient’s procedure.

In recent patient John Thompson’s assessment, “They have taken precautions to make even a hardened germaphobe happy. Masks, temperature readings, gallons of disinfectant; all things get done really quickly and unobtrusively.”

Fellow patient Jill Barber agrees. “I was extremely pleased that [their] first priority was respect for patients’ health—masks, barriers, limited contact—and equally delighted that the entire staff has retained its usual pleasant and positive demeanor.”

Dr. Hedstrom says, “We’re closely monitoring the situation in Cook County and we will adjust our business, and how we schedule people, based on the risk in our area.” This ongoing adaptation has been supported by continuing education Zoom calls from the University of Minnesota. “Even though we’re all social distancing we can have the best information available,” says Dr. Hedstrom. The new protocols have been in place for the last few months and are “running really smoothly,” she says.

So, what does this new system look like? The first step is preventing potential exposure to COVID-19. Dr. Hedstrom says, “As staff members we’re being careful to not come to work if we’re sick.” Staff are screened every morning; if anyone exhibits signs or symptoms, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic is consulted for further assessment and, if needed, testing. (There’s also a protocol in the event that a staff member is being tested and awaiting results). As for patients, “we’re encouraging people to stay home if they have any inkling that they don’t feel well, and we’ll happily reschedule,” says Dr. Hedstrom, who reports patients have been “very conscientious.”

In order to maintain physical distancing, patients wait in their vehicles and are called in only when their room is ready. Symptoms and temperatures are checked upon arrival, and though it’s not possible to wear a mask during dental work, they are required everywhere but in the exam chair. Patients may also request appointments at the beginning of the day if they feel more comfortable being first in the building.

That’s not the only way the Grand Marais Family Dentistry is making accommodations. They know this might be a difficult time financially, and as always, will help you customize a payment plan, or learn more about their in-house Benefits Plan, which applies to both preventative and operative care. 

For Dr. Hedstrom this give-and-take is simply what it means to be a community business: “We all work together to keep each other safe.” She beams when recounting the array of Arrowhead-wide support that has allowed her to reopen safely and sustainably: Frank Ceo knew where to find N95 masks when they were in short supply, Bob Pranis crafted face shields, Wintergreen Clothing sewed washable medical gowns, Vikre Distillery produced hand sanitizer—and, of course, local folks donated cloth masks for patient use.

It’s clear that the staff at Grand Marais Family Dentistry are ready for you, whether it be for a cleaning, a toothache, implants, or orthodontia; and ADA President Chad P. Gehani, D.D.S. says, “Millions of patients have safely visited their dentists in the past few months for the full range of dental services.” So—what should you do?

Dr. Hedstrom’s advice is like her business: personal. “It’s important for each individual to decide what’s best for them.” Just give them a call—like any good neighbor, they’re happy to help.

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