I came into the office and heard the receptionist literally hacking. Sweat was dripping from her brow, and she complained of feeling chilled. Wrapped up in a wool sweater and a tissue in each hand, her complexion was ashen.
She said, “Don't get near me! I am sick. I don't want to give it to you. I will stay away from everyone today. I know you guys cannot do without me; production would drop.”
By noon, she was home, allowing her body the room to heal from this virus she had brought with her to work. As the week went on, we dropped one by one, sweating and coughing, ending up at home for a week each to recuperate.
By Friday, the office was closed. Production did drop and it went on for two weeks as a result of one person's good intentions to “save the day” and ignore the guidelines that we have been given. I do not want any of you to be able to tell another staff person, “You make me sick!”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives us guidelines for monitoring our own health and then asks us each to be responsible for following those guidelines. If you have an acute or chronic medical condition that can render you susceptible to opportunistic infections, you should discuss with your health-care provider whether the condition might affect your ability to safely perform your duties.
However, under certain circumstances, all dental health-care professionals need to be excluded from working to prevent further transmission to patients and staff members. Because many of our patients have compromised immune systems, it is vital to not expose them to opportunistic infections. Keeping in mind the mode of transmission and the period of infectivity of the disease, all offices should follow the exclusion policies that the CDC has given to keep everyone safe.
No dental health-care provider should be delivering treatment or working in the office and no patient should be receiving elective treatment with the conditions presented below. The information below is from the MMWR Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health Care Settings — 2003. These are the suggested restrictions for health-care professionals infected with, or exposed to, major infectious diseases in health-care settings, in absence of state or local regulations.