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COVID-19: An update from Mike Heilbron

Hello friends and patients, 

So as we progress through another week of lockdown, following Boris Johnson’s advice last week we are beginning to hear of the possibility of change for us all.

Here at Illume, everyone wants to get back to doing what we do best, so there has been much discussion on how we are going to help our clients and keep everyone safe.

In Dentistry it is likely that we will see a gradual return to treatment, along the lines that have been adopted in other countries. Each practice is different, the teams are different and the physical environments are different, so any plan has to be unique. Fortunately at Illume we are very well placed to adopt the new proposals when they are made known to us. In anticipation of this advice, we have looked at each and every step that a client goes through (we call this the patient journey) and we have (or will be) introducing measures to make sure we are all kept safe.

This letter is a brief introduction into the historical processes carried out at Illume and what we will be doing in light of COVID-19.

To minimise the chances of cross infection, we already have strict processes that we adopt for all patients. Over the years these have been shaped by advice from authorities into a series of documents that we audit and refer back to on a regular basis. We are fortunate to have a dedicated decontamination room, which is used to sterilise anything that we reuse, the instruments are checked, scrubbed, placed into ultrasonic baths and then sterilised in autoclaves (sophisticated pressure cookers) before being sealed and stored. If it is a piece of equipment that cannot be placed in an autoclave (such as the LED lights we use to set fillings) then it is covered with a barrier which is disposed of at the end of the appointment. Everything else is designed to be single use only.

All these processes are incredibly effective and will remain unchanged, but COVID-19 means that additional steps need to be implemented both short and longer term. These new protocols have been designed to be implemented when we are allowed to see you again.

These include:

Investing in a digital workflow, so you will be able to complete forms, medical histories and surveys in the comfort of your home.

Adding the opportunity to book online as a supplement to our normal system.

Another area we are due to offer is remote consultations. This is much more sophisticated than a chat; by utilising custom software we can provide you with more detail and in some cases treatment options and plans for you to consider. We will keep you posted as these new services are added.

Rest assured that these systems are fully compliant, secure and protected. We have also developed a system to guide people in and out of the building with minimal contact, observing social distancing rules.

When it comes to treatment, we will be guided by current advice for best practice. In the short term, the current view is that we will be able to begin to provide treatments that do not generate aerosols. These small droplets which are similar to what happens when you sneeze without your hand over your mouth are expelled high into the air and can linger for a long time - eventually settling on people and hard surfaces.

Protective clothing, correct masks, gloves and visors all help to minimise the chance of spread from clients to team members and vice versa. We may look a bit different, but underneath the gloves and hats and visors the team are still the same lovely people!

We have all heard in the news that there is a shortage of the correct protective clothing, but Illume is part of a group that can obtain this equipment. Whilst there is a considerable cost to this, the safety of clients and team is our main concern.

We will also be installing the latest air purification units in the practice. These devices constantly recirculate the air in the room using a combination of filters and UV light to destroy pathogens, including COVID-19.

Illume has always provided as much time as is needed to complete treatment properly. Initially we will tend to see fewer patients per session to make sure every room is decontaminated before anyone enters. To make this effective, we are likely to work as teams over extended hours and days. It is most likely that we will work in a shift pattern to allow you to be seen properly and reduce the number of people in the building at any one time.

I hope this initial letter is helpful for you. We will be writing again very soon to update you, as things continue to change and develop.

As ever please take care, stay safe and we will see you soon.