COVID-19 Diaries with Dayna Rosenthal: Urgent Dental Care in the CDS

Here is the first guest post for my COVID-19 diaries with fellow blogger and dental officer Dayna Rosenthal..

Donations Dayna's community clinic received from the general public over Easter. Dayna says 'To all the lovely people donating these treats, my sweet tooth thanks you!'

Hi, my name is Dayna and I am a Dental Officer at Whittington Community Dental Service, which is based all around London.

Things have been shaken up for us lately! Since COVID-19 has taken its toll, the guidance is changing every day so it can be tricky to keep up to date. 

Instead of our regular community patients, we are now set up as an Urgent Dental Hub (yep, they do exist!). That means that we are seeing any patient in our boroughs needing urgent dental care. There is a lot of demand since most general dental practices are closed and this is a bit of a change from our regular patients! In the long term, I can imagine our waiting lists piling up and I really hope that our patients are still able to access the care they need. 

The patients that we are now seeing are screened to ensure they meet the criteria for urgent care and then there is a dentist telephone triaging to determine if the patients can be given phone advice or whether they need to come into one of our hubs. Working in the hubs is a real team experience. We have a few more nurses than usual, which is really helpful with zoning clean and dirty tasks as well as the admin side of things including getting the patient to wash their hands before entering and spacing out appointments. 

The treatment is pretty standard emergency treatment. While we are trying the minimise aerosols, they are sometimes unavoidable if we want to get the patients out of pain, especially since we don't know when the patient will next be able to see their dentist. That means we have to try our best to provide something that is not just going to last a week and have to try and swap surgeries after using AGPs for an hour! 

Luckily, we have had fit testing sessions and have been given PPE. Unfortunately for me, my fit testing took a loooooong time, but thankfully, I eventually passed! The respirator is tight and tricky to hear people speak clearly through. It also looks quite intimidating and for the first time ever, makes it look like the dentist is more scared of the patient. The good news is that you feel quite reassured after the fit testing about your own safety. Also we are lucky that we don't have to wear them for as long as people in hospital, huge credit to those wearing these bad boys all day every day! 

This is the only mask that properly fitted my weirdly shaped face - scary looking I know!

Work and home life can be hard right now. We are all living in the unknown and that in itself is quite stressful. In this tragic pandemic, it is amazing to see the kindness of the general public. From a first hand experience, my first day of working in the hub I was faced with Easter treats piled high (not exaggerating, look at the photo above!) by the general public. While at the start I was getting the tube to work, many kind people have donated their car parking spaces for free to NHS staff and this has helped me to get to and from work safely. Other perks for NHS staff include the free use of the mindfulness Headspace app, and I personally am loving online yoga. 

All these little things are keeping me sane and with the beauty of technology to connect to one another, hopefully we can get through this together (at a social distance!). 

Do you want to write a COVID-19 diary? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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