Dr. Drake Tollefson and staff will begin seeing patients at Distinctive Smiles dental office as Ohio begins Phase 1 reopening
By: Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (May 4, 2020)– Dr. Drake Tollefson confirmed plans to reopen his “Distinctive Smiles” dental practice for regular patients in Loveland beginning Tuesday, May 5,
Dr. Drake Tollefson is reopening Distinctive Smiles dental practice Tuesday, May 4 (Provided)
In an interview with Loveland Beacon, Dr. Tollefson revealed his sense of humor remained intact despite the professional stress of closing his practice during the COVID-19 shutdown in Ohio. When asked how he was doing after several weeks of shutdown, he had a little fun with the answer.
“Professionally we were shut down like everybody else was,” said Tollefson. “We got to stay at home, test our marital vows and see if those held up and that worked out okay.”
Due to “Stay at Home” orders from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Distinctive Smiles cancelled patient appointments. They were allowed to see only patients with a dental/medical emergency. Tollefson says they saw “maybe” 8-10 people over the course of the seven week closure.
“There were some true emergencies,” he said. “Everybody made it through.”
Starting this week, the week of May 4-10, Tollefson and his staff will begin gradually working again. Patients of Distinctive Smiles are going to find changes; changes to protect not only them, but also to protect the health and safety of the dental staff.
“It’s going to look a whole lot different than it did at the beginning of the year for patients and even the people who work with me,” Tollefson said. “It is such uncharted waters.”
Tollefson and his staff have discussed a variety of options for a variety of potential patient reactions. They talked about “wide range of patients” including some just terrified of going out. He cited those elderly who are most vulnerable to being infected by coronavirus and are terrified of going out.
“Then there are the other ones who kind of look at the dentist like getting your car fixed like a mechanics shop,” he explained. “They don’t understand why we have to do all this extra stuff. We talked about how we handle all the people so we handle them safely, but us safely also.”
Patty Weaver, Dental Hygenist, Distinctive Smiles staff (Provided)
Cori, Scheduling Assistant for Distinctive Smiles (Provided)
Marjorie, Business Manager, Distinctive Smiles (Provided)
Tollefson says this situation has probably raised awareness dentists are medical practitioners and not a “mouth mechanic”. So many people have learned of the direct link of dental health to other health risks, or benefits.
He cited the examples of the relationship of high blood pressure and diabetes to poor dental hygiene, gum disease, dental care. By emphasizing the relationship, the strong benefit of good dental care is beneficial in helping patients understand the need to continue dental care now that dentists are allowed to open back up.
“I’m not going to sit here and say everybody has to come in every six months,” Tollefson said. “There is a greater benefit to being seen than waiting for something to happen which could be catastrophic or being shocked after they’ve waited a year and have problems. The standard for comment dentists hear is: it didn’t hurt until you treated it. ”
The dentist reply is: “What you’d rather wait until it hurts before you do anything. Tollefson chuckled as he related the story again revealing the survival of his sense of humor through the COVID-19 shutdown. On the more serious note, he explained some of the changes patients and staff will see when returning to Distinctive Smiles.
‘I understand people are afraid,” said Tollefson. “We are going to do everything in our power to keep them safe with the way we treat them and how we treat them. I also want to keep my staff and myself safe.”
They won’t be doing cosmetic procedures. Tollefson believes it will be nice for patients which have things that can be put off for a while. Distinctive Smiles will get patients through this tumultuous time with what needs to be done. At the same time, they know there is plenty of time to do the other things later. For people who may still be too afraid, Tollefson says he is available to just talk to them to let them know the lay of the land, get them in for cleaning, or x-rays. Keeping in contact is important to be sure things don’t get out of hand for them. Here’s a little about the “lay of the land” at Distinctive Smiles as he reopens to see patients.
NO common reception area – patients, once scheduled will wait in their car
CALL the office from car upon arrival, Office will call when ready for patient to enter
TEMPERATURE Check right away with a thermal thermometer
ANSWER A SHORT MEDICAL QUESTIONNAIRE – about 5 questions all related to the coronavirus symptoms, travel, their routine during quarantine
ONCE PASSED, patient signs off – even the pen is given to them to keep- no chance of passing along any virus
PATIENT escorted to treatment room – no time in any reception area at all
AFTER TREATMENT, all transactions handled right then and patient leaves
ONLY THE PATIENT and staff in the treatment room –
Loveland dental practice of Dr. Drake Tollefson (provided)
Tollefson says once the patient is in the treatment room, they’ll be with only the hygienist or the dentist. He said it will be like a surgical procedure. By the very nature of dental hygiene, there is spray during cleaning or any procedure. The staff will be wearing the gown and the mask or shield. Patients will be given cover for their upper body. As far as the mouth goes, they will be given a bottle of Peridex (germicidal oral rinse used to reduce bacteria in the mouth) to rinse out their mouth. The mouth is never 100-percent sterile, but dramatically reduces germs and protects the patient and staff during the procedure.
“The good old days of walking in, signing in, sitting down and grabbing a magazine, at least for the near future, are gone,” Tollefson said. “I’m trying to protect people. It’s going to be a lot different. “
Dr. Tollefson and the staff of Distinctive Smiles is doing everything they can to keep patients and staff safe. If a patient fails the temperature test, if they fail answering any of the questions, they will not see them. Patients will be directed to see their physician. There is even a list of physicians they will recommend if the patient does not have a personal physician. The patients are being told this up front.
Sue Tollefson helps coordinate marketing and is ready for her husband to get back to work (Provided)
“It is not personal,” said Tollefson. “When you’re contacted by your dentist, if you have questions, ask them. When we make an appointment now, the scheduling assistant knows it is not business as usual. Everybody should feel good about it.”
As we talked Friday afternoon, Tollefson was happy about getting back to work Tuesday at Distinctive Smiles in Loveland. He says his wife is even happier.
“I can tell you one thing, if this is what retirement is like, I’m not retiring,” he said with a laugh. “I can also tell you for a fact, my wife already has my lunch packed for Tuesday. She may even drop me off.”
Click here for More about Distinctive Smiles in Loveland, Ohio