This blog is the first in an occasional series written by local business owners as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, Route Bay City features Dr. Chelsea Mason, a general dentist with offices at 3433 E. Midland Rd.
Hello Bay City!
I am Dr. Chelsea Mason, a general dentist in town on East Midland Road. Dr. Chelsea Mason Dental was created on January 1, 2016, after Dr. Donald C. Goeckel and Dr. Dianne C. Weidner retired.
Dr. Chelsea MasonA little bit about myself. First, I love dentistry! I began practicing dentistry in 2013 in Saginaw after graduating from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. I enjoy meeting new patients, addressing their concerns, and improving their overall health. I was born and raised in Saginaw and still live there today with my fiancé and French Bulldog, Domino. I love living and working in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Our community is filled with people like me who are friendly, down to earth, very real and hard working.
I remember watching the news in early March and learning about something that we are all too familiar with now: COVID-19.
On March 20, per the Governor’s orders, my dental practice closed to non-emergency patients. This meant canceling appointments for check-ups, fillings, and crowns. If it was not a dental emergency, we could not treat the patient. I understood and accepted this order. My priority is keeping my patients and team safe, healthy, and well.
I directed my team to file for unemployment at that time. A few of my 11 team members still have not received their unemployment benefits as I am writing this, which is extremely frustrating as an employer. I never in my wildest dreams imagined furloughing my employees as a dental practice owner. Before COVID-19, I did not even know what the word furlough meant. Now, I know its meaning too well.
I keep a skeleton crew working to keep the practice operating. We still have phone calls, messages, emails, mail and bills coming in each day. We may have stopped seeing non-emergency patients, but the business is far from closed. However, there is very little if any revenue generated, which significantly increases my stress and anxiety levels. Like so many others who own small businesses, I am worried about the practice, keeping my business alive, and maintaining all of my employees and patients. It is still a worry and certainly a cause for lack of sleep.
I will continue treating emergency dental patients during this pandemic until allowed to treat non-emergency patients under the Governor’s order. I encourage patients who are in dental pain to contact their dentist for treatment. We do not want patients with dental pain going to the emergency room during this time.
Being open and transparent is really important to the practice as well as supporting the Great Lakes Bay Region. Prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking every precaution to protect the safety and well-being of our patients and team. We created YouTube videos showcasing the ways we are keeping our patients and team safe. You can watch them on our website, www.mason.dental, or on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DrChelseaMasonDental.
Dental offices have long been the leaders in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. We took steps to protect patients and staff well before COVID-19 struck.
Extensive personal protective equipment (PPE) has been our standard of care for decades. The use of gloves, Level III ASTM masks, eye protection (for patient and provider), face shields, and long-sleeved jackets are customary in dentistry and our practice. We are well protected and so are our patients.
We disinfect all surfaces in between patients and common areas throughout the day, place barriers on chairs, and frequently touched surfaces like light handles, radiographic equipment, and computer peripheries. We thoroughly disinfect operatories after each patient and autoclave all instruments. Dr. Chelsea Mason has always followed all the regulations and takes infection control very seriously. In 2018, I purchased a Surgically Clean Air Filtration System for the office. The system has a six-stage filtration and sterilization process that removes particles, including viruses, allergens, and mold from the air.
Recently, I contacted and wrote a letter to elected state officials and the Michigan Dental Association leadership asking that dentists be able to re-open their practices and treat patients comprehensively, not limited to dental emergencies only. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is not allowing dentist to complete “elective dentistry,” however if you elect not to treat it, you will lose the tooth. Therefore, it isn’t elective or optional to treat decay or periodontal disease. If you do not treat the disease, then you will lose the tooth or multiple teeth.
Our patients’ health is deteriorating. Dental hygiene and treating dental decay are not elective procedures. I have patients with uncontrolled periodontal disease that is now threatening their pregnancies, diabetes control, cardiovascular disease control, and overall health. I also have patients with deep dental decay that if left untreated will result in tooth loss or infection. Dental offices are essential.
During the pandemic, there has not been one documented case of a dentist or dental office involved in the spread of COVID-19. Yet many dentists across Michigan and the United States have been open and treating patients with dental emergencies and urgencies.
A recent analysis performed in a large group dental practice nationwide from March 16 to April 27 studied 65,000 dental emergency patient exams performed in 742 practices over 42 days. There was not one documented infection transmission related to those procedures.
As of May 14, there is still no reported transmission of COVID-19 related to a dental office. Dental practices are safe for patients and their employees, especially the ones in our community.
I cannot wait to get back to what my team and I do best – treating all of our patients – not just the emergencies. We preach preventative dentistry all year round and miss being able to practice it now.
Be safe and be well. Don’t forget to check on your dentist. I guarantee that he or she could use a smile.