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Optometrists, dentists exercise caution with COVID-19

PARKERSBURG — Optometrists and dental offices are rescheduling appointments in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

MyEyeDr. on Dudley Avenue in Parkersburg temporarily closed Thursday and was rescheduling patients to be seen after April 6.

“This was a decision that was made nationwide for all of the MyEyeDr. offices,” said Patricia Harris, general manager of the Parkersburg location.

She said staff will be available for emergency care, but regular appointments are being postponed in the interest of the health of patients and staff. Employees will be paid during the closure, Harris said.

The decision by the company was made in conjunction with guidance from the American Optometric Association, Harris said. A statement from that group says they support federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for medical facilities to prioritize emergency and urgent procedures.

Area dental practices are taking that advice, with some notifying patients via phone, email and social media that they are rescheduling non-emergency procedures. Friday was the last day for standard hygiene appointments at Bowling & Dunn Family Dentistry.

“Somebody will be there, but it’s only for essential services,” Dr. Wayne Dunn said.

That follows an American Dental Association recommendation for dentists to do what they can to mitigate the spread of the virus. On Wednesday, the ADA issued guidance on determining what constitutes dental emergencies and non-emergency care.

“These are things that are pretty common sense that we just have to see people, even during these times,” Dunn said.

According to ada.org, dental emergencies “are potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding (or to) alleviate severe pain or infection.” Examples include uncontrolled bleeding and bacterial infection with swelling or facial trauma that could compromise a person’s airway.

Urgent dental care, the ADA says, “focuses on the management of conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments.”

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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