COVID-19 Updates

5/10/2020 UPDATE:

Check out this video where Dr. Briggs discusses our opening plan and the Parking Lot Waiting Room!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpkzYv5gWYc

5/6/2020 UPDATE:

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4/29/2020 Update:

APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING CHANGES UPDATE:

As we continue to receive operational guidance from the Texas dental licensing authority concerning their recommended re-opening protocols I want to highlight again that barring a governmental change:

AUSTIN ORTHODONTICS WILL RE-OPEN FOR IN-OFFICE APPOINTMENTS ON MAY 11th

Unfortunately, going back to a ‘normal’ schedule means patients too close together and a bustling reception room - - none of which is possible as we emerge from the shelter in-place orders and begin Phase 1 of re-opening. The early guidance is that we will only be able to see approximately 30-40% of our normal patient flow each day to facilitate proper social distancing and increased disinfection protocols. Accordingly, we need to institute a completely different scheduling template for this reduced patient flow over the coming months.

Our plan to manage this massive re-scheduling effort is as follows:

  • We are going to re-open with full patient days Monday - Friday (and likely some Saturdays) to increase our capacity.
  • We are going to continue utilizing Virtual Visits for as many appointment types that makes sense for. Dr. Briggs and our patients have found this tool to be very effective during the last 6 weeks of Shelter-in-Place – if your appointment is one that can be done virtually you will be moved into a virtual slot, your in-office appointment will be cancelled, and the information on how to connect with Dr. Briggs virtually will be sent to you via email or text.
  • “Auto-rescheduling”: We are going to begin moving existing appointments into the “reduced patient flow template”.
    • When this change is made, you will receive a new appointment confirmation for the new appointment day and time - - please disregard the old confirmation and remove that old appointment from your calendar. We are sorry that we will not be able to call and discuss these changes individually, there are just too many appointments to re-schedule in a short period of time.
    • Please call or text if this new date/time absolutely doesn’t work, but please keep in mind that re-scheduling will likely cause the appointment to be placed even further into the future.

As much as we tried to be proactive and reschedule all of the March and April cancelled appointments forward into our ‘normal schedule’, what we have all learned is that during this pandemic -- nothing is going back to ‘normal’ as fast as we thought. We appreciate your grace and patience during this unprecedented time.

We 1000% realize none of this is convenient as we all are dealing with so many other changes. We know that it is not what we all planned when you started your orthodontic journey - - we will overcome this and will be a stronger Austin and Austin Orthodontics in the end. We miss you and can’t wait to see you soon! Air Hugs-

Dr. Briggs the AO Team

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4/28/2020 UPDATE:

New Executive Order and Provisional Office Opening Plan

We hope that this letter finds you and your family healthy and well. Many of you have likely been watching as Governor Abbot begins Phase 1 steps to open the economy and allow businesses to re-open. We are extremely excited to be able to re-open soon and begin seeing and taking care our patients, however some steps need to be taken before we can do this.

The most recent Executive Order 19 (April 27, 2020) states:

“All licensed health care professionals shall be limited in their practice by, and must comply with, any emergency rules promulgated by their respective licensing agencies dictating minimum standards for safe practice during the COVID- 19 disaster”

Dentistry’s licensing agency is the Texas State Dental Board of Examiners (TSDBE) who will meet soon to give dentists in Texas our guidelines and “emergency rules” for opening. The Texas Dental Association (TDA) has been advising the Governor’s office and the TSDBE concerning the steps and protocols that Texas dentists will take in order to make opening safe for our patients and our teams.

These additional steps and protocols include but are not limited to:

  • Pre-Appointment health history and temperature screenings to ensure symptomatic patients are re-scheduled and not brought into the dental setting
  • “Parking lot waiting room” systems to minimize reception area crowds
  • “Patient only” entrance into the dental office to respect social distancing (as appropriate for patient age/developmental stage)
  • Limited and reduced patient schedules to accommodate additional disinfection time between patients as well as to respect social distancing guidelines
  • Limiting aerosol generating procedures to specific times of the day, and reducing those appointments as much as possible
  • Increased PPE requirements for the dental team and environmental controls for the office

Based upon the previous executive order (which allowed us to open on May 9th), we made the decision to reopen the practice on May 11th. We have already begun setting our plan in motion to:

  1. Bring our team back to work
  2. Implement and train our team on the additional steps and protocols associated with re-opening
  3. Procure the additional PPE needed to operate per CDC guidelines for COVID-19.

As I have stated before, the purpose of our closure to date was to preserve PPE for hospitals - - now, as we are allowed to and try to order these items, the PPE supply chains are stalled and these items are not arriving quickly.

Dr. Briggs and the entire AO team are sorry that the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed your treatment progress and we are anxious to get everyone’s treatment moving forward again. As we do, we need to ensure that it is according to federal, state, and local directives pertaining to social distancing and PPE preservation as well as in line with the CDC and OSHA directives concerning patient and team safety.

Please have patience with us as we work to make our re-opening as smooth as possible for all. Some patients may receive a phone call to move an already scheduled appointment to accommodate our new schedule. Also, be on the look out for more information and specific guidance for your next appointment. We can’t wait to see all your smiling faces very soon!

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April 20, 2020 UPDATE:

Greetings again from Dr. Briggs and the Austin Orthodontics Team.

I hope you and your families are healthy and safe and are maybe enjoying some extra family time as we all social distance to beat COVID-19. I wanted to UPDATE you concerning our office closure timeline based on the most recent executive order update given by Governor Abbott on April 17th.

This executive order has extended the previous executive order's restriction on all non-emergency dental care to at least MAY 8th, accordingly our office will be closed until that time.

We continue to regret this inconvenience and recognize that, in many cases, this is causing a delay in treatment progress, but the preservation of scarce PPE for our front line healthcare workers and safety of our patient family and our team are a primary concern during this time.

You DO NOT need to call to cancel your appointment - our team will be calling and/or texting you over the next few weeks to reschedule. There are some appointment types over the coming weeks that may be accomplished via a virtual visit - - for those patients/appointments we will be contacting you individually via text to see if this is something you would like to take advantage of. These virtual visits have been going very well over the last four weeks and it has been great to see all of your smiling faces.

I do want to take a moment to discuss and clarify that the executive order's provision to close medical and dental offices is specifically intended to preserve PPE for healthcare workers and adhere to social distancing rules and NOT because dental offices pose a higher risk of virus transmission than any other public space. As a result of 'universal precautions' protocols that we have always adhered to, dental and orthodontics offices are specifically suited to deal with infectious disease prevention and mitigation. Rest assured that at Austin Orthodontics we follow ALL local, state, and federal infection control and sterilization policies at the highest level, and we always have. That being said, when we all return to the clinic, you will notice that we are instituting additional social distancing and infection control measures in the office to ensure our patients safety, our patients' families safety, and our team's safety. These additional measures are due to the gravity of the pandemic and out of an abundance of caution and care!

If you have questions on specific concerns please do not hesitate to call and leave a message at or text the office number (512-331-7900), messages are being checked daily. Also, if you have an orthodontic emergency (pain, swelling, bleeding) we are, of course, available and able to address these specific problems if an at home fix cannot be determined. The emergency number to contact Dr. Briggs is 512-593-1417.

Thank you for trusting us with your orthodontic care. We pray the best for your family and hope that you are staying safe.

Sincerely- Dr. Briggs and the Austin Orthodontics Team

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March 24, 2020 UPDATE:

To Our Austin Orthodontics Family

Hope this letter finds you well. Quick letter to update you on our operations and closure.

On March 23, 2020 Governor Greg Abbott signed an Executive order stating:

"all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities shall postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient's physician." The order shall remain in effect until 11:59 pm of April 21, 2020.

In accordance with this and in our continued effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 we are extending our in-office appointment closure until April 21st. We had already closed for 2 weeks based upon early recommendations and out of an abundance of caution for our patients - - this order extends our closure 2 more weeks. As I stated previously, You DO NOT need to call to cancel your appointment - our team will be calling you over the coming weeks to reschedule once we have more clarity. There ARE some appointment types over the four weeks that CAN BE accomplished via a virtual visit - - for those patients/appointments we will be contacting you individually via text to see if this is something you would like to take advantage of. We have been doing these already and patients find them very helpful and it is amazing what visualization we have via video to accomplish the appointment!!! We are also doing some curb-side deliveries of aligners and retainers when/if able.

If you have questions or specific concerns please do not hesitate to call and leave a message or text us, we have a skeleton crew still responding to communication and working for you!! Also, if you have an orthodontic emergency (pain, swelling, bleeding) then we are, of course, available and able to address these specific problems if an at home fix cannot be determined. Our emergency line is: 512-593-1417 if needed.

Thank you for trusting us with your orthodontic care, we pray the best for your family and hope that you are staying safe and well. We will get through this together and will be a stronger ATX and Austin Orthodontics family when we do.

Sincerely- Dr. Briggs and the Austin Orthodontics Team

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