While dentists around the UK wait for guidance on when they can open, one leading practice owner is ahead of the field, investing in staff safety and patients’ peace of mind, with a regular COVID-19 testing programme.
James Goolnik, founder of London’s multi award-winning Bow Lane Dental Practice, has worked closely with Express Medicals to ensure he can provide regular certificated COVID-19 status for each of his clinicians and hygienists, to reassure patients and team as soon as he can open his doors.
The comprehensive testing programme enables employers to have a complete picture regarding the COVID-19 status of its employees by offering the right test for the right individuals at the right time. Nasal swabs, also known as PCR tests, will identify those infected at the time of testing. Antibody tests will identify anyone in the mid-to- late stages of infection or anyone who has had the infection and is likely to be developing some immunity.
Express Medicals developed the programme using 23 years’ experience working in the occupational health market, in partnership with researchers from Imperial College who have advised throughout, from evaluation of the tests to creating effective online and paper-based training and education packages.
“Like many dental practices, we’ve been inundated with offers of testing from a variety of sources: this is a completely new situation for all of us, so it was important to assess offers to ensure we procured not just one-off tests, but an ongoing testing programme we can trust,” James explains.
“We need a combination of tests so we can choose the path that will help us assess our team’s health, show them that we’re investing in their safety, and which will also reassure our patients that we’ve done everything possible to ensure the person whose hands is in their mouth is virus-free too. We know it’s likely that we’ll be co-existing with the virus for several years, so early investment in this programme is really important for us: our patients deserve every reassurance we can give them and our team deserve our support.”
Dr Dan Hegarty, CEO of Express Medicals, has worked closely with Dr Simon Davis of Imperial College to lead the development of the company’s COVID-19 response which now includes testing, risk assessment and management for staff at home and at work and a range of mental health support options. “The speed with which we’ve had to respond to the virus has been unprecedented, and we are working hard with partners from a range of sectors to help them keep staff and the public as safe as possible.
“We joined forces with Imperial at the outset to assess tests, to make sure our clients understand how to assess and manage risk and we continue to review the science and government advice daily, to update that information and to provide a balanced, common-sense approach to a complex challenge.
“We’ve been delighted to work with James, given his reputation in the dental profession, to look at back-to-work measures. We’ve worked hard to provide a solution that works far better than the ‘test once and post’ option and are working with Bow Lane to provide testing and full clinical backup from occupational health specialists, used to taking legally defensible decisions.
“Taking the test is an individual choice, of course, but we’re now finding that those companies who started these programmes in the past month are seeing a massive increase in uptake and demand from staff who value the testing as part of a responsible employment strategy.”