Guidelines updated to ensure safety for patients and staff
BREWSTER, NY— Governor Cuomo announced dentists can begin seeing patients for routine dental care starting on June 1. Originally slated to reopen in “Phase 2,” dentists have been given the green light sooner than expected with declining NYS coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, intubations and deaths.
“Our dental health care providers in Putnam have been team players from the start of this pandemic,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Some donated masks and gloves to our frontline workers and all have now invested time and resources to ensure safety for their patients and staff as they return to their offices.”
From physical distancing to personal protective equipment, New York State has shared a twelve-page document which includes a link for providers to affirm their receipt of and agreement to follow the guidance set forth.
For dental health care providers, proper use of personal protective equipment is nothing new. While dental settings are traditionally designed with patient and provider safety in mind, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dentistry in the time of the novel coronavirus goes further to balance the need to provide necessary services while minimizing risk to patients and dental health care personnel.
On March 16, the American Dental Association (ADA) was one of the first national professional health associations to recommend postponement of all but urgent or emergency procedures. Just over two months later, the ADA designed an interim return to work toolkit for dental practitioners. Together with documents from the CDC, and now New York State, the comprehensive guidance addresses ways dentists and hygienists can reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission before, during and after visits.
Dr. Daniel Doyle, of Doyle Dental and president of the Putnam County Board of Health says, “The dentists of Putnam County are thrilled to be back seeing their patients. They are now seeing all patients for routine procedures, not just for emergencies.”
As dental offices begin planning to reopen their doors they may be adapting their offices to meet new safety state and federal guidelines. Doyle Dental’s website and patient correspondence describes new safety protocols. Some changes patients can expect as they return to their dentist’s office include plexiglass partitions at reception, waiting room modifications including chair spacing, removal of magazines and mask requirements as well as screening for symptoms of illness. Additionally, because many dentists donated their personal protective equipment (PPE) to essential workers and closed their doors for over two months, some may have had to rebuild their PPE stock.
Modifications to dental care will impact everything from pre-appointment communication to provider and patient interactions. According to the ADA, dental office staff may call patients for a preliminary health screening prior to an appointment. Patients may notice their dentist or dental hygienist wearing additional protective gear such as a face shield and gown. While the state allows offices to begin reopening as of June 1, Dr. Doyle recommends residents check with their local dentist regarding specific safety measures and exact reopening dates.
The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services, provided directly and through collaboration, include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com/coronavirus; or visit our social media sites @PutnamHealthNY on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources is pleased to announce that is has scheduled 2 Face Covering Distribution days for Putnam County seniors. The face covering is a white washable cotton fabric and will come with washing instructions.
Seniors have been identified as being a group that is very vulnerable to the COVID-19 or Coronavirus. Putnam County Department of Health and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance recommends that we wear face coverings when in groups and in public settings.
Who: This program is for the benefit of Putnam County seniors of age 60 and older
When: From 12pm noon to 2 pm on
- Friday June 5, 2020 and
- Monday June 8, 2020
- Carmel Friendship Center, 110 Old Rt. 6, Bldg. 1, Carmel
- Koehler Senior Center, 180 Rt. 6, Mahopac
- Putnam Valley Senior Center, 117 Town Park Lane, Putnam Valley
- Friendship Center in Philipstown, 1756 Rt. 9D, Lahey Pavilion, Cold Spring
The health and safety of our seniors and staff is paramount during this distribution program so we will have signage posted directing cars and walk-ins where to go. Staff will also be outside our centers during the distribution period. Seniors driving in are to remain in their cars and the face coverings will be handed to them on a tray by OSR staff and volunteers wearing face coverings and gloves.
BREWSTER, NY—A deliberate, phased-in approach to reopening began in other parts of the state. Now its Putnam and the Mid-Hudson region’s turn. Deaths from COVID-19 have continued to decline and contact tracer training is underway, so phase one has begun.
“We have been watching carefully around the State and we know what a safe re-opening looks like,” County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “It is a delicate process. Getting the economy moving again is crucial, which is why Putnam County formed the ‘Reopen Putnam Safely Task Force.’ We must all do our part and not become complacent. Following the guidance will ensure the virus continues to decline. Large gatherings and crowds still need to be avoided, as we continue to practice social and physical distancing. The good news is that over the Memorial Day weekend, we saw residents at Putnam beaches showing restraint and being responsible. ”
The key is to remain diligent in practicing the tried-and-true public health practices of good hygiene, social distancing and now keeping gatherings to groups of less than ten people. By keeping groups small, contact tracing can be managed. According to the NYS reopening benchmarks, thirty contact tracers are needed per 100,000 residents. However, NYS reopening requirements for Putnam stipulated that the county identify 84 contact tracers in order to track and identify people who may become sick and advise them on how to avoid spreading the virus further.
Putnam County’s Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, also emphasized the importance of continuing public health efforts, saying, “Everyone must remain strong and continue to practice social distancing, hand washing and wearing face coverings. With these practices we have flattened the curve. With these practices we can keep it flattened. Then we can continue to reopen and get everyone back to work. The key words are caution, patience and perseverance.”
In Putnam, as around the state, Phase One begins with the reopening of businesses where physical distancing can be most easily preserved. Construction, farms and landscaping businesses, manufacturing, and wholesale trade are some of the businesses that are getting the green light first. Retail establishments as well can open, limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off. If all proceeds with reason and restraint and hot spots are quickly identified through contact tracing and testing, progress will continue. If lapses occur, it will take some time for that to be reflected in the numbers of positive cases and hospitalizations.
Anonymous cellphone data shows that people across the country initially took very seriously the government’s advice to stay at home. Now with the warmer weather, the easing of restrictions in some areas, and nearly everyone tired of staying home, more people are venturing out more. This is all good for the economy. If public health practices can remain in place, then resurges can be contained, the economy will continue to revive itself. Putnam residents can continue to do their part, both for the health of the community and to support local businesses.