Elective surgeries, dental procedures set to resume in California

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Over the last couple of months, Dr. Richard Barnes' general dental practices on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia have only seen about a dozen patients for urgent needs.

But Barnes thinks he'll be in a position to start bringing more patients back soon by following guidance from the California Department of Public Health released last week.

He's in the process of getting more personal protective equipment (the state says providers should have a two week supply at a minimum).

Barnes knows that PPE, such as face shields and N95s, will be critical for protecting his patients and staff.

Dental health care personnel are at a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 when performing aerosol-generating procedures.

"Well now things have gotten a little more intense with an aerosol virus," Barnes said. "And that's why (there's) the importance of the next level of mask and face protection than what we've used in the past."

Once open, he plans to prioritize patient needs.

They should feel safe to come in, he says, but they can expect a very different setup.

"There won't be as many chairs in the waiting room," he said. "There may be some waiting in the parking lot, and then get texted or called to come into the appointment."

Meanwhile, California hospitals are starting to resume elective surgeries, which were put on hold in an effort to build capacity for a surge in COVID cases.

Kaweah Delta Medical Center halted hundreds of those surgeries but will start to bring some back next week.

"There's still that continuous pressure to keep the hospital available, to keep in-patient beds available, in the event the second wave or some type of COVID surge came along," Kaweah Delta CEO Gary Herbst said. "So we are deliberately moving slowly. Obviously, an outpatient doesn't take up a bed after surgery."

Herbst knows some may fear a surgery at a hospital right now, but he wants them to know they'll be taken care of.

"Rest assured that you're coming to an incredibly safe environment," Herbst said.
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