Dentists and ophthalmologists postpone appointments due to COVID-19

ByMartha R. Camara

Mar 17, 2020

Illinois dentists have been advised to only perform emergency procedures through March 31, while ophthalmologists and optometrists delay some appointments and take precautions in the wake of the COVID pandemic -19.

The Illinois State Dental Society released the recommendation on Monday to postpone elective dental treatments and procedures from Tuesday, saying dentists and staff are one of the groups most at risk of contracting the virus.

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Illinois Optometric Association and Illinois Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons had not issued specific guidelines Monday other than following CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19. But some doctors said they were postponing some elective procedures.

At High Point Dentistry in Elgin, Palatine and Schaumburg, dental cleanings, implants, veneers, sealants, crowns and braces are postponed, regional manager Fel Aguinaga said. “We only see patients in the office who are in pain, have swelling, difficulty closing (their mouth), abscesses and/or discharge,” she said.

People should call if they have questions and can also video chat with dentists at High Point Dentistry, she said.

“People can end up in hospital for dental infections. The last thing you want is for people with abscessed teeth to end up in emergency rooms, which are already overcrowded,” said Aguinaga.

High Point Dentistry had previously asked patients who had recently traveled or were feeling unwell to reschedule their appointments, and waived cancellation fees, Aguinaga said.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Dr. Jon Gieser, president of the Wheaton Eye Clinic, said the clinic was delaying routine office visits, as well as elective eye surgeries, mostly for cataracts. However, retinal surgeries are taking place, he said.

“We don’t want to do anything that can put patients at risk and we don’t want to overburden the healthcare system any more than it already is,” Gieser said.

Telemedicine is hard to do with ophthalmology, Gieser said. Patients at the Wheaton Eye Clinic — with locations in Wheaton, Naperville, St. Charles, Hinsdale and Plainfield — can call to determine if they have an emergency, he said.

The clinic was already asking visitors to wait in their cars to reduce the number of people in waiting rooms and asking patients with symptoms of illness such as fever and cough not to come into the office, Gieser said.

Optician Harsh Parekh of Lens and Specs in Schaumburg said the office is scheduling optometry appointments 45 minutes apart to reduce contact between people. There have been no cancellations, but walk-in visits have all but stopped, he said.

The office is taking precautions by disinfecting surfaces, equipment and eye frames, and providing hand sanitizer to patients, he said.

Another thing has changed, Parekh said — to limit physical contact, he uses the traditional Indian “namaste” greeting, which requires no contact.