Hi Fresh Families!
I hope that you’ve all had a great summer…and most importantly stayed safe and healthy. I wanted to connect with everyone to update you on how the coming months will proceed for you and your child’s treatment in our office.
First, I want to thank all of you for doing such a great job during the quarantine! We have found that most of our patients have remained on track or have experienced minimal delays in treatment in light of our prolonged closure. I also want to thank everyone for working so patiently with our team to get you re-appointed and caught up on treatment. We have now seen almost every patient that was affected by the closure. If you are in active treatment and have not been scheduled to be seen in the office, please call us, so we can accommodate you ASAP!
We will continue our pre-screening and safety measures throughout our office indefinitely until we are given clearance by NY State to remove these protocols. In doing so, please understand that we have very limited waiting room space to maintain social distancing. Our dental chairs are all 6 ft+ apart with physical partitions and HEPA air filtration placed throughout; however, our scheduling bottleneck has been to avoid having too many people in the waiting area at the same time. We kindly request to avoid bringing along siblings and friends if possible. If you are comfortable with your child attending alone, we are happy to take great care of them and update you on an as-needed basis (no news is good news with these visits!). It will be important for all of us to work together to ensure a safe environment for all patients during cold weather months and inclement weather, when waiting outside is not a reasonable option.
We will continue to follow the state guidelines for the travel advisory and will reschedule patients as needed if you’ve travelled to a banned state in the past 14 days.
We ask that you please refrain from coming into the office without a scheduled appointment, as we are scheduling patients based on social distancing measures. If you are having difficulty and request immediate attention, please call us or utilize our virtual visit when possible, and we can evaluate with you to assess the best way to accommodate your concern.
Our team has been working tirelessly throughout the summer to hire and train additional staff to minimize the inconvenience to our patients and to continue providing the type of service you deserve from us. I expect our phones to be much easier to get through to a live person, as we have increased the number of people covering our phone lines. Our voicemail message will also be significantly shorter 😉. As a convenience, please don’t forget to utilize our SMS text system. You can respond directly to your appointment reminder texts, and our scheduling coordinators will be alerted on their computer screen and will be able to text with you during business hours. After hours and on weekends, please call or email us for the best communication, as no one will be in the office to check the computers for a text message.
Unfortunately, the changing dynamic of the school calendar has affected several of our team members with having to be out of the office a couple of days a week for remote learning with their children. As a result, we will be making some changes to the upcoming scheduled appointments to ensure we are adequately staffed for your upcoming appointments. We apologize in advance if your appointment is rescheduled…yet again. Hopefully, 2020 doesn’t bring us any more surprises along the way.
For patients that we are monitoring in our Growth Guidance program and wearing retainers, we are scheduling longer periods of time between appointments (up to 9-12 months) to help increase appointment availability for active patients, as well as to push your next visit out into warmer months, where we will hopefully be allowed to see you without a mask 😊. If you have an immediate concern about your child’s development or your retainer fit, the virtual visits on our website have been a very useful tool to help determine if we need to bring you into the office sooner.
Appointment Availability and Office Hours
Based on our required protocols, we are only able to see approximately 50% of our normal patient appointments per day compared to life in pre-COVID times. We have opened additional days on our patient schedule to accommodate the need for extra appointments, but please understand because of the remote learning childcare needs of our staff that we will be holding certain appointment types on certain days. We are doing this to ensure the best quality of care based on our individual staff’s responsibilities and when certain team members are able to work in the office. Our hours will temporarily be Monday through Thursday, 9 am-5 pm, based on the best compromise we have put together to manage patient and staff needs. I know this isn’t ideal for many schedules, but we do plan to open up availability as our staffing allows for increased availability. Just remember, we’re all in this together, and we are working as hard as possible to make sure we provide you with a safe and positive experience.
Please note that it is very important to attend your scheduled appointment and to try to prioritize accommodating your time slot. We always try to schedule your next visit before you leave the office, but please understand that orthodontic offices are always scheduling patients out on a rolling basis 2-3 months out. When there is a short notice cancellation or no show for an appointment, the next available time slot may be as far as 1-2 months later. In the past, we have been able to accommodate sooner appointments during morning times. We maintain very limited open appointments in the afternoon to accommodate comfort visits. In the past, it wasn’t as big of an issue to squeeze an extra patient in; however, we are having to maintain strict adherence to the state guidelines for everyone’s safety, and will not be able to be as flexible with schedule overrides.
We also realize that most of our patients are school-age and after school appointments are preferred. To help accommodate as many families as possible after school, we will schedule shorter braces adjustment and Invisalign check appointments after school. Longer appointments, such as bonding and removing braces, will be held earlier in the day, so we can offer more attention to you during technique sensitive procedures when the day is less hectic in the morning. Fortunately, we have many adults in treatment as well, so as a personal favor, I’m asking all you adults for your help. If you’re not in school, could you please volunteer to be seen primarily in the mornings? We would all be super grateful for your flexibility. After all, you’ll be doing a HUGE community service to help out lots of kids. And who doesn’t love helping kids?!?
During cold and flu season, if you or your child is experiencing symptoms or at home sick from school, please call ahead to reschedule your appointment. We don’t really know what lies ahead, and hopefully, it’s a lot more returning back to normal life. No matter what comes of the rest of the year, we will make sure to do everything we can to keep you and your families safe and still keep it a fun and easy-going environment for everyone.
My team and I all truly appreciate your choice to receive care with us, and we wish all of you the best for the new school year and the rest of 2020.