Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

Swords Orthodontics Getting Ready to Re-Open Part 1: Us

It’s about 6 weeks since I took the decision to postpone seeing patients for routine orthodontic treatment at Swords Orthodontics. I did this because I felt it was the safest thing to do for my patients and my team, given that Ireland was heading into its coronavirus challenge.

We didn’t really close but it’s certainly not normal service at the practice. My team are busy working from home, still staying in touch with patients, helping and advising patients with their enquiries and directing others to me for specific clinical advice. We have arranged to see a few patients with serious problems that can’t be sorted out over the phone.

It’s strange when I listen to the radio or read features, people talk about being bored or learning new languages, running out of box sets to watch, or just running. I was looking forward to watching DVDs but in the end I found that I had very little spare time, I have been busy about 7 days a week overseeing the practice in hibernation. Sometimes this is practice management, filling out forms, looking after the team, organising some IT tricks to help the team with their working from home, sometimes it’s just opening the post, but most of it was spent preparing the practice to resume seeing patients in a way that’s safe for the patients and the team.

It’s not too long since I finished being president of the Orthodontic Society of Ireland, so I’m still on the organising council. We hold regular teleconferences and zoom calls to discuss the best way forward for orthodontists in Ireland and we would have a network of colleagues around the world to draw advice from. We knew that coronavirus was going to be a problem that would far outweigh the need for routine orthodontics.

In addition, I take part in an international daily briefing on Covid and Dentistry, and a supplemental weekly one every Thursday night. On the morning of March 16, after making the decision on the practice, I set up a WhatsApp group for the orthodontists in Dublin to share information and look out for each other as it’s been quite stressful for some dentists to deal with the challenges unique to their practices.

On this group there is a rapid sharing of scientific papers and articles from around the world – there were two papers from the early stages of the disease from Chengdu and Wuhan in China and as more information was shared the picture of the scale of the challenge became clearer.

If I started looking over the messages, I bet I would see a change in the mood. We started talking about the virus and everything we could reliably find out about it and what we would need to do to stay safe and keep our communities safe. Then we were concerned about the national response to Covid, particularly how dentistry was connected to this, then it was about movement restrictions. For the last 2 weeks though, it’s been about what will our practices and our treatments be like when we re-open. Last weekend I hosted a zoom call for 15 orthodontists across the country to talk about our experiences and the main topic was getting back in action.

I don’t know when we’ll re-open.

It’s not my decision.

The government decide to allow people different degrees of freedom of movement. As I write this, there is still a general government restriction to stay at home for people unless there is a specific reason for them to leave – check gov.ie for details. I suspect that it won’t be a special day like you learn in history that a war officially ended. I don’t think there will be a day when we can say “that’s it, all over” but at best we look back at a day after which we know there were no new cases. There certainly won’t be a day where all of us at the same time start living like we did on March 16th, never mind February 15th, or January 15th.

Even when restrictions are lifted, it probably won't be the same for everyone at once, so it might be a while before you see some of the more senior community meeting up.


Rudyard Kipling has a verse…

“I keep six honest serving men,

they taught be all I knew

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who?”

It’ll be the same for restriction lifting – who will still be restricted or not, when will we be allowed to move and to where, how will we have to behave in public spaces…?

I don’t know the answers, but we can prepare as best we can with the information that we do have.

I don’t know when we’ll re-open but I know that when we do we’ll be taking extra measures to make it safe for our patients to attend and safe for our team to treat them.

I'll talk a bit more about them in a new blog.

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