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April 1, 2021

A Communication Structure to Get in the Loop & Aligned! Part 1

 

I think George Bernard Shaw said it best when he said, “The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished!” I find that to be the case in many dental practices today. More relationships are destroyed because of poor communication than for any other reason.

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide facilitating my Rise & Shine Culture Camps. I consistently observe concerns with the communication structure in dental practices. What I mean by communication structure is the actual flow of communication. It is what is necessary to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page working together for the greater good of the patients, practice, and team!

An effective communication structure starts with establishing a clear flow for communication and clarifying expectations to the team.

  • Who to go to or does it differ for specific areas? For example, do they always go to the office manager or is there a specific person for equipment repair, ordering supplies, or team, and patient concerns, etc.?
  • When to meet? Always consider who needs to know what information and when do they need to know it?
  • What is the decision-making process and how is it communicated to the team? Who will make the final decision and how quickly can it be made? I suggest trying to resolve within one week after being discussed at weekly management meeting to keep the practice moving forward. Try to resolve immediately if it pertains to the schedule that day.

 

The communication structure will differ based on size of practice and number of locations. For example, if you have one doctor and five team members in a single location versus 5 doctors and 45 team members in multiple locations.

The communication structure in a small one location practice without a manager would simply be doctor to team member and team member to doctor. As simple as that sounds it does not necessarily happen. I often observe a doctor or team member going another team member to share their concerns instead of going to each other. It is called gossip and is divisive.

The communication structure for practices with a manager would flow from doctor to manager and manager to team member and reversed team member to manager and manager to doctor. Even this simple communication structure can be difficult to maintain if the doctor and manager deviate from the flow.

It becomes more complicated when there are multiple locations and more team members with different shifts or start and end times. Larger multiple location practices with team leads would utilize the following communication structure. Doctors to director of operations, director of operations to location manager, location manager to team lead, team lead to team member. The reversed would-be team member to team lead, team lead to location manager, location manager to director of operations, director of operations to doctors.

Doctors may not always need to be included in the flow of communication depending on subject matter. The director of operations may make the decisions to expedite the process and keep the doctors in the loop at their scheduled monthly leadership meeting.

Implementing this communication structure will help to keep everyone in the loop and aligned!

Tune in next month to learn about what meetings are necessary to support your communication structure.

 

 

March 1, 2021

A Line Sand Day!

A Line In The Sand Day!

If you are reading this, you miraculously survived 2020.  2020 was a crazy ride that brought a combination of challenges that nobody would have believed could have happened.  For some it might have felt like the end was coming.  But we survived. We endured the challenges, and some of us even discovered new strengths and became even better. We adapted and made concessions, but we are still here.  Which is reason enough to celebrate with a thank you, amen or a TA-DAH!

The dark side of 2020 was comprised of negativity, uncertainty, fear, stress, anger, judgment, and blame, etc..  Many of us were hoping 2021 would magically change everything.  While the calendar might have turned a new page, much of our reality is continuing to be the same as we start 2021.  It’s time to reset and take action.  It’s time to let go of those dark emotions and move forward to a happier, healthier and higher performing 2021!

A line in the sand day is the perfect way to reset for 2021.  A line in the sand day is the day we decide to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.  Let go of the past and focus on the future.

We need to be able to let go of some of the things that happened if we want to work together successfully.  Because stuff happens and will continue happen.  A line in the sand day will allow the team to move forward and work together in a cohesive, happy, healthy and high performing culture!

It starts with being able to forgive and move on.  Let go of the things that happened and focus on how not to replicate them in the future we become a creator of our life.  If we choose to hang onto the things that happened to us and choose not to move on, we become a victim of our past.  I would much rather be a creator of my future than a victim of my past.

Let’s say I have a disagreement at work with someone and we aren’t getting along.  Co-workers don’t get involved with other team member’s dramas or you escalate the drama unless you are the doctor or manager or whoever handles conflict resolution in your practice.

It’s our job to work together well with our co-workers the moment we step across the threshold to start our day.  It’s each team member’s responsibility to figure out what they need to do to work together successfully.  Meet with any team member you are having the difficult problem with.  Extend the olive branch and openly discuss what you need from each other to work together successfully.  Focus on big picture goals first which are the core values of our practice.  Find what you agree on and build from there.  Be open and willing to compromise and agree on a process.  It’s not my way or your way it’s our way that supports the core values of the practice and is in the best interests of the patients, practice and team!  Not any one individual.  We make agreements.  We hold each other accountable and we support each other.  There are no individual opt outs.

The success of a practice is based on the success of the team.  We succeed as a team or we fail as a team.  If we run into hiccups, we review as a team and adjust what is needed to stay relevant.

I suggest a line in the sand day on a yearly basis.  It will enable your team to work together in a calm and cohesive manner and let go of the drama in the past.  Implement your line in the sand day and make 2021 your best year yet!

Contact me if you would like help implementing your Line in The Sand Day!

January 1, 2021

Leave Your C.R.A.P. at the Door!

Leave Your C.R.A.P. at The Door!

Happy New Year!  Usually, I like to start the year focusing on how to improve and grow.  I don’t know about you, but I would be thrilled with just getting back to the old norm in 2021!  The pandemic was like a remote control that put us on pause and now it is time to hit play!

The uncertainty of the pandemic, election, shutdowns, etc.…the list goes on and on has been an enormous weight we have all carried.  Which over time lowers our level of tolerance and heightens our level of insensitivity.  The media including social media has played an enormous role in fueling negativity.  So many people with keyboard courage.  Strike that; keyboard cowardice.

We continuously hear our politicians talking about uniting and becoming one again.  Yet bipartisan behaviors continue to happen on both sides.  I remember my dad, Clem Miller, chiding me about being to pro for one party.  He believed you must take everything you hear regarding politicians with a grain of salt.  Truths are manipulated in both parties.  He simplified it by comparing Democrats and Republicans to the Looney Tunes characters, Ralph the wolf and Sam the sheep dog.  They would fight each other all day long.  However, once they clocked out for the day, they would go back to being friends.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VYtiyjqx7E

We can’t control what others do but we can control what we do.  Our actions will determine our outcome.  It is time to leave the 2020 C.R.A.P. at the door and move on to a more positive and prosperous 2021!

C.R.A.P. is an acronym for:

  • Criticism
  • Rudeness
  • Assumptions
  • Problems

 

Criticism – The dictionary defines criticism as the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.  We have the right to have our own opinion and so does everyone else.  Make a commitment to start 2021 with respecting other people’s opinions.  We show respect by listening openly to understand and even consider their point of view.  Start out the conversation by focusing on what you do agree on.  Be mindful of your words, tone, body language and energy.  Our words make up only 7% of how others perceive us.  Body language is 55% and tone of voice is 38%.  When you approach someone come with an energy and mindset of care and curiosity versus judgment and blame.

Rudeness – The dictionary defines rudeness as behaving inconsiderately, aggressively or deliberately offensively.  Consider how your words, body language and tone can convey perceptions of rude behaviors.  Be polite by being thoughtful of the other person’s feelings.  Simple words, please and thank you are powerful.  Ask questions to understand and acknowledge responses.  Before speaking always ask yourself, how can I say what I need to say while still respecting how I make the other person feel.  Avoid flippant sarcastic remarks like whatever which lessen the seriousness.  Address mistakes with kindness and compassion.  Body language such as rolling of the eyes or frustrating sighs are dismissive actions.  Curse words and name calling are offensive and never ever appropriate.

I love to use the acronym T.H.I.N.K. as my filter before I speak.  It helps me communicate positively and effectively and avoid conversations that require and apology later.

  • T- is it true
  • H – is it helpful
  • I – is it inspiring
  • N – is it necessary
  • K – is it kind

Assumptions – The dictionary defines assumption as a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.  False assumptions run rampant and are most often negative.  Here is a three-letter word that will resolve assumptions…ASK! Stop assuming and ask questions to understand.  When you get that twinge in your gut and you think… “Hmmm…I wonder what they meant by that?” or you find yourself saying “I think they meant this” – you don’t know! Stop yourself immediately from wondering and speculating, go directly to the person and ASK! You will be surprised how many of your assumptions are incorrect after you hear their response.

Problems – The dictionary defines problem as a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.

The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day.  95% are redundant…the same thought we had yesterday is the same as today and tomorrow.  80% are negative unless we are mindful.  Negative thinking can often make a mountain out of a mole hill.  Many of our problems our self-induced by the words we use to describe a situation or person.  Words that label such as hard, difficult, and stressful generate those same emotions.  For example, we review the schedule at the morning huddle and say it’s going to be difficult and stressful day.  We will look for things to reinforce our beliefs and it will become a difficult and stressful day.  Instead use the word interesting to describe a person or situation.  Interesting is a neutral word.  Be a creator of your day and replace negative problem thoughts with positive actions that resolve the problem.  Leave your C.R.A.P. at the door and make 2021 your best year yet!

November 1, 2020

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

Last month we focused on the first three steps to thrive as the new kid on the block.  They were building confident trust relationships, learning systems and processes, and balancing your role as the associate.

The fourth step in fitting in is by avoiding gossip.  Gossip is sharing anything that is negative or private about another person.  Listening is gossiping if you are not in a position that allows you to resolve the issue.  The listener plays a 50/50 role.  Because it stops if the person complaining has no one to tell.  I have found it works best to refer the person back to the source of concern to work it out instead of listening.  Instead of listening ask them if they have tried to talk to the other person.  If they say no, ask them to do so and stop the conversation.

People who engage in workplace gossip often have a strong need to “fit in” and feel that gossip will help them achieve this. Gossipers often suffer from low self-esteem and think that talking negatively about others will make them look better. If we truly grasped the devastating fallout from gossip, we would no longer accept it as the norm for any culture!

Gossip affects:

*             Patient care and experience

*             Team communication, performance, and relationships

*             Practice performance

*             Morale

*             Trust

*             Respect

 

The fifth step to fitting is to be approachable.  Do daily or weekly check ins with your team and owner doctor.  A simple question to ask, “Do you have any questions or suggestions for me?”   Avoid becoming defensive even if you disagree or feel hurt.  People will avoid defensive people.  You have a role as an approachee (the receiver of information).

The Approachee’s role is to start out by thanking the approacher (the person approaching) for respecting you enough to come to you. It is important to recognize that the approacher’s intent is good and to realize that it is not easy to approach someone.

Listen intently to hear.  Make eye contact with the other person.  Don’t take offense.  Instead of defending, deflecting, or blaming someone else consider how your actions or lack of actions affected the outcome.   Be honest with your response.

Acknowledge you heard and understand them.  Never assume.  If you are unsure ask questions until you clearly understand.  If you are thinking I think they mean this…ask more questions.

Don’t take it personal.  If the concern pertains to the patients, the practice, or the team it is necessary to address.  It can be difficult to hear when we are not meeting the standards or expectations.  However, it is necessary to address in order to create and sustain a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.

Take it seriously.  It may not seem important or be a priority to you, but it is for the other person.

Control your emotions.  If you are upset don’t just walk off in anger or frustration.  Instead, let them know that you need a little time to process the information they shared, and you will respond later and give them a specific time.  Try respond within 24 hours.

I like love to utilize the L.E.A.R.N. acronym when being approached.

  • Listen intently to hear what they have to say
  • Empathize by acknowledging their emotions
  • Apologize for the situation
  • React by sharing what you will do
  • Notify those that need to be aware of the discussion and decision

Here is an example how you can use L.E.A.R.N.  Your assistant is frustrated because she just started working with you and doesn’t understand what instruments you want and when.  It makes her uncomfortable because she has been an assistant for years and this makes her feels inadequate.  The conversation might sound like this.

“Thank you for respecting me enough to come to me with your concerns.  I can understand how uncomfortable this must be to work with a new doctor.  I am sorry that this is frustrating for you.  We will take some time to discuss what instruments I need with the different treatments we offer.  During the procedure I will ask for what I need.  We need to learn how to work together and that takes time.  So, let’s agree to have patience and support each other.  I will make sure I speak with the other assistants about tray setups as well to keep us all on the same page.  This will ensure that we all have a great day!” 

Instead of constructive criticism (which is an oxymoron) use positive verbiage and have a constructive conversation.

Following these five steps will help you thrive as the new kid on the block!

September 1, 2020

How to Get & Stay Positive!

How to get and stay positive has become much more of an effort for many of us than it ever has been in the past.  Just turn on the news or read Facebook for five minutes and you may think it’s Armageddon!  Fortunately, much of the information is based on sensationalizing the facts.

Life is too short to spend it being negative and worrying.  Especially when there are so many reasons to be positive.  Other people and situations don’t make us feel a certain way.  We do it all on our own by how we think.  If we practice mindful thinking, we will feel more positive.

Start your day on positive note by thinking positive thoughts while still lying in bed.  Plan to have a good day by visualizing feeling good.  Wiggle your toes and stretch while you are visualizing.  Imagine feeling a sense of contentment and well-being and you will start to feel it wash over you.  Acting-as-if shifts our perspective and the emotions follow.  I like to start my day positive every day.  It does not hurt that I love the person I get to wake up with every morning.  That would be my husband Steve…just to clarify!

During the day focus on staying in the present moment and being aware of your surroundings.  Look for the positive around you.  Play the I spy…!

  • What is interesting?
  • What is beautiful?
  • What makes you smile?
  • What is inspiring?

It could be a flower, artwork, or a hummingbird.  It could be a great chair to sit in and read or the view out your window as you sip a great cup of coffee.  Maybe you have a fur baby like me who tries to get your attention while you work.  Give thanks for what is.  I personally reset by thinking about how grateful I am to have my health, my family, and I love what I get to do.  It is impossible to feel negative at the same time you feel gratitude.  If you are a list maker, make a list of what you see and our grateful to have in your life.

Our energy ebbs and flows like a tide.  Be mindful of your energy.  Reset when you start to feel yourself victim thinking and having pity party.  A pity party is when we focus on what we are missing in our life and what we had.  It might be a loved one, a job, or even life in general.  The why me stinking thinking.  The should or shouldn’t have happened thoughts.  Should and shouldn’t thoughts always send our emotions spiraling downhill.

Victims stay stuck thinking about what should or shouln’t have happened!  Whereas, creators think, so this happened so now what…!  They observe the emotion, triage the situation, and take the next step.  They believe they will succeed.  Scientists know that strong self-belief goes hand-in-hand with higher levels of resilience.  This means that if you believe you’ll be successful, it’s likely you’ll also have a high level of control over your thoughts, feelings and actions.  The result? You apply more effort and persistence. You demonstrate more resilience to push through. And you achieve what you set out to do.

The more we are open to and embrace that:

  • Life is uncertain
  • Life is unexpected
  • Life changes in a moment
  • No one owes us anything

The happier we will be.  Try to find humor even in difficult situation.  Appreciate what you have and what is regardless of what happened and what isn’t.

Labeling something as bad creates negative emotions. Truthfully, how can we label something as good or bad if we do not know the end? None of us have a crystal ball. So how do we really know if something is good or bad? There have been many things in my life that at the time seemed difficult or bad that turned out generating a very positive outcome.  Haven’t we all thought or said this is going to be bad at one time or another and yet it turned out to be one the best things to happen to us.  I can think of many situations and events that seemed very negative or difficult at the time that brought some of my greatest successes.  Be curious instead of critical and look for the opportunity in every situation.  What we look for we find.  Look for the upside in life!”

July 31, 2020

Implementing & Sustaining Change!

Implementing & Sustaining Change! 

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

I love this quote because it reflects what I often see when working with dental teams. A current system or protocol is no longer working and holding the team back from excelling. Yet it continues to be done the same way. When I ask why the usual response I receive is; “we have always done it this way”!

Similarly, our level of performance in life is defined by our willingness to question and challenge the status quo. We get good at something and it feels comfortable. Comfortable feels safe and is the downfall of excellence. Stop doing what you do just because it is comfortable and challenge yourself to excel.

A team meeting format including the following three steps is an effective way to review, evaluate, and update current systems and protocols.

Step One:

Establish a clear vision for what you want to achieve.

Start by asking; how can we do this in a way that will improve effectiveness, efficiency, and enjoyment? What does the change look and feel like? Define even the smallest details. I am going to refer to your vision as your boat. Describe your boat. What does your boat look like? When and where is it going? How fast is it going? What crew members do you need? What are their roles? What capabilities do you want them to have? What character traits do you want them to demonstrate? What is the purpose of your boat?

Step Two

Create a systematic step by step action plan for all training, tasks, and responsibilities necessary to achieve the changes.

Introduce one idea at a time and go deep enough to resolve any obstacles and create a step-by-step action plan. Avoid doing a data dump of many ideas left unresolved that you must continuously revisit. Be precise, practical, and realistic with the action plan.

As a team discuss and decide on the following:

·     Who on the team is going to do it

·     Which patients will you do it for

·     When

·     Where

·     Why

·     How

Also evaluate whether you have enough time and people to accomplish the action plan. If not, what changes would you need to make in order to succeed?

Most of us want to excel at what we do. It’s the unrealistic expectations that often get in the way. For example, let’s say the goal is to deliver an over the top experience to patients checking in as well as patients calling because it is the first interaction and impression most patients have with the office. If there is only one person handling all the calls and checking every patient in they are limited in the amount of time and attention they can give any individual patient. The limited staffing coverage impedes them from excelling. Another example is adding an additional procedure to a hygiene appointment protocol that is already at capacity. Either add time to the appointment or remove a procedure. These are examples of unrealistic expectations that can frustrate even the best of employees to the point where they lose their passion to excel. We are setting them up to fail. It is important to always evaluate time and staffing and set precise, practical, and realistic expectations to empower the team to excel!

Step Three:

Establish accountability.

Accountability starts with everyone agreeing to support the change and being held equally accountable to the ideas, systems, protocols, and standards. No double standards for anyone including the doctor or manager or you divide the team. Doctors and managers sometimes shy away from addressing what’s not working or not being done to the standard. Often to avoid what they believe to be micromanaging or conflict. This only delays what would have been a simple conversation and allows the situation to fester until it is ready to blow at any time! If a non-supportive behavior or attitude does not get addressed by the doctor or manager, it may be considered acceptable by the team. Address any concerns with attitude or behavior as soon as they happen (within a 24-hour period if at all possible). It is important for the entire team to maintain the new ideas, systems, or protocols. There is no individual opt outs! If something is not working for an individual, rely on the team to help to resolve. You may find other team members have difficulty as well and it may be necessary to adjust the protocol. Sometimes things look great on paper and yet don’t work well in real life.

If we want to achieve more than we ever have in the past, we must be willing and open to change. Changing thoughts, beliefs, and habits can create a sense of groundlessness and uneasiness. Our first impulse will be to revert to old habits because they feel comfortable. Our goal is to hang in there until the change becomes a habit. The average habit takes 66 days. Make a commitment as team to support the new change for a minimum of 66 days before evaluating whether it was successful. Implementing and sustaining change is only a habit a way!

What is one thing you can you stop doing starting today that will make the biggest impact in implementing and sustaining change? What is one thing you can you start doing starting today that will make the biggest impact in implementing and sustaining change? In the end, change requires letting go of what we have always known and done to allow in something new!

 

Please visit www.PracticeSolutionsInc.net if you would like to learn more about how Judy Kay can help you cultivate a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.

July 1, 2020

The WE Team!

The We Team!

 I refer to the leadership in a practice as the We Team! The We Team may consist of the owner doctor or doctors, practice administrator, manager, team lead and any other leadership roles in the practice. However, I will be focusing my message on the doctor/practice administrator relationship. It is imperative to develop a cohesive We Team. Without cohesive leadership performance expectations will be ambiguous and the team will conform to the lowest standards or expectations. Before you hire a practice administrator (PA) make sure you are ready to support them. I do not mean just financially. Consider the following questions before starting the hiring process:

·     Can the practice financially afford?

·     Are you ready to let go of some tasks and not micro-manage?

·     Will you take the time to empower someone else co-lead your team and practice

·     Will you support your PA in front of the team (any disagreements need to be behind closed doors away from the team)?

The relationship between the doctor and PA will be confusing without open communication and clear expectations. Many doctors hire a practice administrator without having clear expectations.  They believe the PA can manage without direction. The only guidance given to the PA is to let them know when they are doing things wrong. This lack of leadership sets the PA up to fail as it is confusing for them and the team. I receive a plethora of different answers when I ask doctors and team members what they think is the role of a PA. The role varies greatly from practice to practice.

Doctors make a list of the tasks you would like your PA to do before you start the hiring process. This will enable you to write and ad that clearly defines the role. Or if you already have a PA and have not defined their role do it now. You can also use this list to discuss strengths and future expectations.

Clearly define your goals and expectations. I would suggest creating a task management list that include the following. For a more detailed list email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net.

·     Personnel/team management

·     Overseeing patient management

·     Practice management/productivity/promotion

·     Property/facility management

·     Any additional duties

Doctors and PA’s before agreeing to work together discuss the following:

·     How well do your core values match?

·     How aligned are your passion and purpose?

·     How well does the PA’s strengths match the expectations of tasks and responsibilities?

·     Do you both understand and agree on the role?

·     Does the PA really want the role, and have the capacity to excel in the role?

 

I am blessed to have worked with hundreds of dental teams nationwide to help them build a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture with my Culture Camps. Here is a link to my Rise & Shine Culture Camps (https://www.practicesolutionsinc.net/culture-camp.html) The best results are dependent on having an aligned and cohesive We Team.

Start by clarifying your roles as a We Team.

Doctor’s Role:

The doctor’s role is to create a clear vision for the practice. Choose four core words that reflect the core values you want to have in your practice. They are important to define what they mean to you and prioritize. These core value words will help guide you and your PA in decision making. I have found that four core words are much more powerful and effective than a rambling vision statement. Email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net if you would like my Core Values sample list.

PA’s cannot meet your management expectations without ongoing communication. Every doctor and every office are unique. How could the PA possibly know what you want them to do? Schedule adequate time to meet with your PA on a weekly basis. This will allow and opportunity for the doctor and PA to:

·     Focus on the big picture and long-term goals

·     Share thoughts and ideas

·     Discuss and problem solve

·     Review practice statistics and adjust goals

·     Share patients and team kudos and growth opportunities

·     Define marketing opportunities

·     Discuss current projects and timelines

·     Give feedback on PA’s performance

·     Support your PA when confronted by a team member

 

PA’s Role

The PA’s role is to support the vision of the doctor in words, actions, and attitude. Support by inspiring, engaging, and empowering the team to implement the doctor’s vision. Which is why it will be imperative for the We Team to meet on a weekly basis to get and stay aligned.

A PA’s role includes the following:

·     Sharing new ideas with the doctor

·     Monitoring practice statistics

·     Introducing new ideas to the team in a team meeting setting

·     Utilizing a process/system to implement the new ideas

·     Creating accountability processes

·     Resolving issues

·     Communicating with the entire team individually and as a group to keep everyone in the loop and aligned

·     Creative problem-solving schedule obstacles

PA’s capitalize on your first 90 days by meeting with each team member individually to build relationships. Review current systems and processes and ask for feedback from the team on what is working well and any obstacles. Implement new ideas that are a positive for the team and easily achievable. This will help your team view change more positively. Take time to communicate with the team daily to keep everyone aligned and in the loop. At least 30% of your time to be spent working with team members. Be transparent and follow through with what you said you would do to build high trust relationships. Schedule time for social outings to have some fun together which will go a long way in building good will for stressful times. Share your knowledge and expertise and provide resources to empower your team to succeed!

The We Team relationships that soar are those that consistently take time communicate what they need from each other to successfully co-lead.

 

March 24, 2020

Covid-19 Resources to Stay Safe and Sane

Covid-19 Resources to Stay Safe and Sane

Emotions are running high and there are many different opinions on the severity and treatment.  Dentists our burdened with decisions regarding patient care, their practice and team.  It is imperative that we not go into panic paralysis.  Instead let’s focus on steps we can take right now.

The lifter in me always looks for a rainbow after the storm.  The good news is that this storm will not go on forever.  We live in a very resourceful country.  There is a national focus (government and private sector) on generating an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, respirators and ventilators.  Our leaders are deploying ships and transitioning buildings to help beef up the health care delivery system.  Scientists are working on medicine to treat and prevent Covid-19 in the future.  Our current status may seem daunting.   However, we will not only survive this pandemic we will thrive and be more equipped to handle any potential future outbreaks.

I am saddened and frustrated and even angry at times.  Maybe you feel those same emotions as well.  Those of you who know me well know that I am not one to stay in the poor me victim mentality.  Instead I prefer to be a creator and act. Therefore, I have spent the last week reading and watching videos to learn as much as I can about Covid-19 to help keep teams and patients sane and safe.

Here are suggestions and resources (ADA, OSAP, CDC and Judy Kay) that you may find helpful in staying safe and sane!

Create a patient flow protocol with your team for when you are back up and running.

  • Consider what will make our patients feel safe, welcome and comfortable?
  • Intake protocol questions to ask
    • Have you traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days?
    • Have you had contact with anyone with confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
    • Have you had any of these symptoms in the last 14 days?
      • Fever greater than 100
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Cough
    • “Remember Mrs. Jones, if you’ve had the flu or a cold in the last 14 days or you’re not feeling well before your next appointment, please call and we’ll reschedule so you have time to recover.”
    • “If you have flu-like symptoms, or if you’ve been exposed to a sever cough or cold by someone you know, please call to reschedule your appointment to a later date.”
  • Utilize posters, signs & floor decal communication
    • Communicate hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
    • Place a sign at the entrance to your office and strategic locations to let patients know they can reschedule if ill
    • Use personalized floor decals to create social distancing.  Create a unique positive message about your safety on each decal. https://www.stickeryou.com/products/indoor-floor-decals/689
  • Emergency care of patients – if more than one doctor – create mini-teams that work separately in case of exposure.  It will prevent the need to quarantine the entire team.

Engage your patients during your down time – Try to touch base with your patients on a weekly in the following ways.

  • Contact (call yes call on a real phone) all patients that have been affected by the shutdown (canceled appointments).  Reassure them that you will be there in the future to take care of their needs.  Reinforce what you are doing to keep them safe in the future.  Share the protocols and patient flow processes you are implementing.
  • Share the same information in short bite-size pieces on social media and a blog on your website.  Take videos of team members utilizing standard universal precautions as well as new precautions.
  • Send an email and or letter to all your patients sharing this same information

Here is a great example of a letter my client emailed to their patients.

Coronavirus Update‼️‼️

Due to the recommendations from the President and the American Dental Association, we have updated our office hours and protocols to keep our patients and community safe. Read a list of our updates below.

Effective through _______, our office hours will change to _____________ for emergency/essential treatment only. Our goal is to help keep our patients healthy, keep dental patients out of the emergency rooms so that doctors can keep their spaces open for Coronavirus cases, and minimize the potential risk to our patients and staff.

We will continue to communicate to our staff and patients regarding our plan to return to normal business hours. Appointments will be rescheduled until April and May with additional dates/hours being opened based on the need to accommodate our patients in a timely manner once we return to a normal schedule.

Our practice has always followed the strictest protocols regarding infection control in the dental practice. During this time, we have increased our disinfecting protocol for waiting rooms and patient areas. Patients will be asked to utilize a “virtual waiting room” by calling the office upon arrival. They will be taken directly to a room, and our lobby will remain empty to prevent any unnecessary contact.

We have limited staff at this time and will only see one patient at a time to minimize exposure risk. Patients will be screened via phone, and those who are experiencing symptoms will be not be seen. Upon arrival, we will take patients temperature to make sure that those that we see are not experiencing any infection. We have phone lines open to handle your dental concerns until our schedule returns to normal.

 

We will do our best to accommodate you and ensure that you stay healthy and pain free! For dental pain, please contact the office at _______________

We appreciate your patience as we manage this unprecedented time. Our goal is to keep our patients safe and healthy. We are in this together! We look forward to serving you again soon!

 

Engage your team during down time – try to touch base with the entire team on a weekly basis.

  • Have weekly remote meetings (I like Zoom)– to connect and check in as well as discuss new protocols once you are back up and running.
  • Create clear protocols for airborne, droplet and contact precautions for clinical and business area.  What will do in addition to Universal Precautions?
  • Practice verbal skills, role playing and the physical walk-through.

 

We are all in this together.  The more we stand together and support one another the quicker we will rise above this storm.

“What If” Panic!

“What If” Panic!

The Coronavirus has created a state of panic.  The dictionary defines panic as; a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.

We are reaping the results of panic behavior hoarding, which is triggering shortages of disinfectants, food and even toilet paper.  The shelves are bare in many stores.  Some are even limiting shopping hours to allow their team to catch up with the restocking demands.

The more we allow our imagination spin fears of what if, the more panicked we will feel.  We can spin ourselves into a frenzy.  A constant state of panic can spiral us into a depressed mental state.  It is vital for our mental health to change from fear-based thoughts to more positive action-based thoughts.

 

The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day.  Ninety five percent of our thoughts are redundant.  The same thoughts we had yesterday will be the same thoughts we will have today and tomorrow.  Eighty percent will be negative unless we are mindful.  What do you think about now on a day to day basis?  Our doubts, fears and worries can paralyze us.  What we think today, tomorrow and next month will determine our future health.  The stories we tell ourselves become the life we live.

When we have faith in ourselves, we follow our gut instincts that we are born with. We become more powerful when we trust ourselves. Decisions become very clear when we trust our gut instinct.  Ask yourself, what is factual and what is fear?

How many times have you changed your mind about doing something because of saying to yourself, “But what if this happens”? You just “what if’d” yourself right out of action. How many times has the fear of “what if” stopped you? The ironic part is that fear is only a negative prediction of the future. In most cases, what we worry about doesn’t happen. What happened, we didn’t even think about or worry about, and yet we still survived. It’s proof that worry is a total waste of energy and time. If we can learn to evaluate the real danger, as opposed to the perception of danger (what if), we will get a more realistic viewpoint and we will be less afraid to act.

Whether or not we act is based on our confidence in being able to handle the situation. Instead of worrying, think about an action plan. Having a clear plan will empower you with the confidence needed to act.

Imagine how much happier you would be right this second if the fear of “what if” did not rule your decisions. What would you do differently?

Action Plan – Here are action questions to help you stop the fear from stopping you. I suggest writing your answers down to make your plan of action more concrete

  • What is the worst-case scenario?
  • What is the best-case scenario?
  • What is the most likely thing to happen?
  • What action steps can I take if the worst thing happens?
  • What action steps can I take if the best thing happens?
  • What action steps can I take if the most likely thing happens?

Define measurable daily action steps.  Then breathe and take the next step!

February 3, 2020

Love Your Heart to Health!

February is Heart Month!  Most of us focus on the love part.  I am going to switch it up and focus on the health part.  It is the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you can take to be healthy.  The perfect time to love your heart to health!

This has become extremely important to me as my husband Steve had several heart attacks in November.  We felt blind sighted. He eats healthy and works out most days.  Steve feels and looks healthy and goes to the doctor annually for checkups.  We were hiking daily in the hills of Sausalito two months prior to his heart attacks.  He felt great.  Everything seemed to be good.  We were utterly shocked when we found out that what we thought was indigestion was really a heart attack.

We feel very blessed that he survived.  The surgeons performed an Angioplasty resulting in placing two stents and opening other areas.  They refer to the 90% blockage Steve had as the Widow Maker.

We are so appreciative that several of my clients and colleagues suggested we read “Beat the Heart Attack Gene by Bradley Bale, MN and Amy Doneen, ARNP, https://beattheheartattackgene.com/. Reading the book has created a much better understanding of heart disease.  I followed up with reading “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!”. which supports the same information. The standard of care is geared to treat end stage disease.  Who wants to wait until end stage? Instead, “Beat the Heart Attack Gene” focuses on prevention and what causes heart disease.

A quick checklist to see if it is time for you to request more thorough tests.

  • Waist measures 35 or more for women and 40 or more for men. (no this does not mean your belt size.)  Use a flexible (sewing) tape measure to measure.
  • High blood pressure – 130/85 or higher
  • Low HDL – less than 50mg for women and less than 40 mg for men
  • High Triglycerides – greater than 150
  • Fasting blood sugar greater than 99

If you have 3 or more of these symptoms don’t delay schedule an appointment today!  It likes 3 strikes in baseball…you are out!

 

The following tests are highly recommended by Amy Doneen and Dr Bale if you strike out.

  • A Cholesterol Test. A high LDL has been the focus on cholesterol as standard of care.  The more important cholesterol number is your total cholesterol and HDL ratio (TC/HDL ratio).  Divide total cholesterol by HDL.  Based on studies they consider a TC/HDL ratio of 3.5 a desirable target and number below 3 to be optimal.
  • An Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to monitor how your body responds to sugar after fasting.
  • A Carotid IMT test to check plaque levels in arteries.
  • A blood test for Lipoprotein A
  • A Coronary calcium scan
  • A Genetic makeup test to test for the heart attack gene 9P21

Doctors will be able to take a more preventive approach once they know the results of these tests.  The treatment will no longer be based on the average person but instead customized to your specific health needs.

Love you heart to health!

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