SOUTH MIAMI, Fla. – Many doctors and dentists closed their offices during the coronavirus lockdown.
Now, as they begin to reopen, it's becoming clear that visiting the doctor's office will come with a whole new set of rules.
As things slowly start to creep toward normality places like dentists offices are figuring out what a new normal is going to look like.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, dentist offices have had a tough choice to make;
whether to remain open for emergencies or close completely, to ensure their patients, staff, and families were safe.
"I have a newborn that was born in February, so going home after that’s going on with COVID, you want to take those extra precautions," said Dr. Joshua Golden with West Sunrise Dentistry. "But I knew this is what I signed up for once I became a dentist. I need to take care of my patients."
Doctor Golden said that's why he chose to stay open, seeing patients through virtual means for minor situations and in person, for more serious stuff.
"We would basically triage the patient over the phone, see what they needed," he explained. "Let's say it's a broken tooth. If it’s a broken tooth, it’s sharp, it’s hurting you, that is an emergency."
It was the same for Doctor Arnaldo Lopez of the Somi Dental Group in South Miami.
He told Local 10 News' Ian Margol they had patients come from as far as Naples and Fort Myers for help because there were so few offices open.
And Lopez says, they were learning on the fly.
"Every day was completely different," said Dr. Lopez. "Some days we might have one patient and I would have half of the staff come in, and out of nowhere five patients would call and I would have to call the staff last-minute because they were all basically on call."
Now, dentists around South Florida are beginning to plan for a reopening, with many of them getting back to most of their normal services this week.
But things may look a little different than what you’re used to.
“We started with a very minor screening protocol,” said Dr. Lopez. “Now our screening protocol is over a page long, and we do it while we talk to the patient over the phone a few days before the appointment, and the day of their appointment.”