Dr. Helm is committed to keeping you informed of any COVID-19 related announcements or changes as they relate to Helm Orthodontics. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have further questions. We are here to assist you!

Updated Appointment Protocols August 4, 2020

Re-opening Patient Email May 10, 2020

Patient Email-Looking Ahead to Re-opening April 24, 2020

Instructions to Patients During Closure March 23, 2020

Patient Email-Temporary Office Closure March 20, 2020

 


 

Updated Appointment Protocols

August 4, 2020

We are SO HAPPY to be open and seeing our patients, and we are excited to see you today! Everyone has been so patient and understanding to work with during the re-opening process. Thank you and let’s continue to work together!

Our “New Normal” policies (from CDC, State of CO, and City/County of Denver) apply to ALL people that wish to enter our office:

  • CHECK-IN: please knock on our door 5 minutes prior to your appointment time.
  • WELL PEOPLE IN THE OFFICE ONLY: If you are sick or exposed to someone that is sick in the last 14 days, we will be happy to help you reschedule your appointment.
    • HEALTH SCREENING FORMS: must be filled out for all people prior to entry
    • WELLNESS SCREENING: temperatures will be taken on all people prior to entry
  • MASKS REQUIRED: please bring your own. PPE continues to be rationed from our suppliers. 1 mask only will be provided to patients when supplies are available. We cannot guarantee availability. If you do not have a mask, you may wait outside of the building or reschedule.
  • SOCIAL DISTANCING: please stay 6 feet apart when possible
    • We have been forced to reduce the number of appointments on our daily schedule. Please continue to be understanding of this when scheduling.
    • 1 healthy parent only: if your child is 10 years old or more and you feel comfortable having them come to their appointment alone, we are encouraging that at this time. Children younger than 10 years old should be accompanied by 1 healthy parent only. Siblings and others not essential to completion of the patient appointment are asked to wait outside of the office. We can arrange a phone call from your child’s orthodontic assistant or your child can conference you in on their phone at the end of their appointment if you have questions or would like a progress update.
  • OUR DOOR WILL REMAIN LOCKED: call or knock and we are happy to assist you!
  • BRUSHING STATION REMAINS CLOSED: please brush prior to coming to your appointment.
  • HAND SANITIZER OR SOAP FOR HANDWASHING: available to all upon entering and exiting
  • SURFACE DISINFECTING: we continue to take extra measures by regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces in between patients.
  • BOTTOM LINE: If there is ANY chance that you are sick or have been exposed to someone that is sick, please reschedule your appointment. We will be happy to work with you on this.

My sincerest gratitude to all of our patients and parents for working together on this!
~Dr. Nathan Helm

Our Guide to Helping You Know When to Reschedule

The health of our patients and staff members is our number one priority. We want to be able to continue serving our patients without interruption. If any of the following apply, please do not enter our office. We will be happy to help reschedule your appointment.

  • You have tested + for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • In the last 14 days you have been around someone that is COVID-19+
  • You, a family member, or anybody you have knowingly been around have had ANY of the following symptoms in the last 14 days:
    • COLD OR FLU SYMPTOMS (SORE THROAT, CHILLS, BODY ACHES, NAUSEA)
    • FEVER (ABOVE 99.6O)
    • COUGH
    • SHORTNESS OF BREATH
    • LOSS OF TASTE OR SMELL

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation! This truly is a team effort.

We hope your families and loved ones are healthy now and in the future.

 


 

Re-opening Patient Email

May 10, 2020

Dear Helm Ortho Patients and Families,

I sincerely hope you are all well. My family, myself, and my team are all doing well, and I am grateful for that. I am anxious to hear what each of you have been up to. One of the most common questions I hear from friends and family lately is what I have been doing with my time lately. It has been an incredibly busy last 8 weeks. I have spent every day of it at the office working to make sure our practice is strong, viable, and safe going into the future. Here are just a few of things I have been up to:

  • Our office has been renovated with new paint, carpet, countertops, tiling, and some other fun upgrades. It was a ton of work, but worth it. It’s beautiful and I can confidently say that we are the cleanest office in Northeast Denver. I can’t wait to show it to you!
  • An enormous amount of continuing education for myself and with the staff took place.
  • We now offer a virtual appointment process for our patients to meet with my staff and me without the need to physically come into the office. I believe this type of care is important now and into the future. Obviously, this cannot be utilized for every appointment, but the state has mandated virtual appointment utilization whenever possible to achieve continued social distancing. Regardless of state mandate, it’s a great service to have in place for our patients.
  • I spent many, many hours reviewing all patient charts and speaking with many of you over the phone on treatment issues or questions.
  • With concerns existing these days about air quality and safety, I consulted with engineers to determine that my office suite air exchange rate (number of times the air is removed and replaced by the ventilation system) is 14 per hour, or once every 4 ½ minutes. That is an excellent exchange rate, exceeding ideal standards (12/hour) for facilities that treat serious and contagious airborne diseases. I was pleased to know this. I am also pleased that I installed physical barriers/dividers between each of the treatment chairs 10 years ago when I built my practice. It is common for orthodontic practices to be designed with no dividers in between treatment chars. Patient privacy was my concern at the time, but those dividers serve us very well now considering today’s circumstances.
  • I re-created almost every scheduling and patient care systems in our office in order to be able to comply with current social distancing standards set forth by the state. I have placed an emphasis on safety for patients and my staff.

My team and I have anticipated reopening of our practice for weeks, but unsure exactly when and what that would look like. Although many things still remain to be unknown about the future, we do have a clearer vision of what the current state reopening guidelines look like for Helm Orthodontics during the month of May (and possibly longer). These guidelines for reopening safely have resulted in many changes to our practice. I have tried to include as many of them as possible for you here in order to help align your expectations and educate you on some of the challenges we will be navigating together.

  • We will start the monumental process of reopening to in-office patient care Monday, May 11th. With so many social distancing requirements in place as well as supply chain challenges with PPE (personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, etc), it’s not an easy process. Please understand, IT WILL NOT BE BUSINESS AS USUAL. I am not sure when or if we will ever get back to that point, but I know for sure it will not be in the month of May, 2020.
  • Our practice has had to postpone 500-600 appointments during our closure. Please understand that it will take weeks to reschedule all appointments. The state has required me to determine a prioritization of procedures that will guide us on this rescheduling process. I ask for your continued patience as my staff is starting the process of making phone calls according to my prioritization plan. Most patients will miss the equivalent of one appointment interval. One missed appointment will not make a significant difference in your overall treatment time, and I will be doing everything that I possibly can to keep your treatment time on track. You can help by not missing any future appointments, which would necessitate further rescheduling time delays.
  • Social distancing standards have required a restructuring and reduction of appointments on our schedule. We are also limited in the types of procedures that can be done at this time. These factors have forced us to make significant changes to our schedule availability, and for that I truly do apologize. The state has emphasized that the reopening process will be slow and gradual. We will be opening at about 25% of normal appointment volume, and I hope this can increase steadily over time to increase our availability. I recognize this will require sacrifices with scheduling and may be a source of frustration for some patients. I understand, and again, I ask for your patience and understanding through this slow ramp-up process.
  • Two forms will be required to be filled out prior to your first appointment back: 1. COVID-19 Consent Form, and 2. Health Screening Questionnaire. The Health Screening Questionnaire should be completed the morning of your appointment, and will be required prior to every appointment for patients/parents entering the office until it is no longer necessary. Links to these documents will be sent out the evening prior to your appointment and will be very simple and secure to complete and return from your personal device.
  • Please brush your teeth thoroughly prior to coming to your appointment as our brushing station will be temporarily closed.
  • We will be exercising regular hand hygiene (washing and hand sanitizer) for all patients, parents, and staff.
  • Expect to see the treatment team dressed differently than what you are used to. The use of gowns, face shields, hair and shoe coverings, etc is the current safety requirements. Warn your children that we will be dressed differently before they come to their appointment if you think this will be a concern for them.
  • Please arrive in our parking lot 10 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time to allow sufficient time for the check-in process and allow us to stay on schedule to allow adequate time to clean and disinfect in between each patient.
  • A virtual appointment check-in and waiting system from your car will be implemented to reduce people in our reception area. Text our office using our normal phone number (303) 371-0371 when you arrive for directions on when to come up.
  • Our front door will remain locked for now as the state has required us to maintain control of who enters our facility; however, we are here to help you. Please knock or call our office and we will assist.
  • In accordance with state orders, myself, my staff, and all patients and visitors in the office will wear a mask (please bring your own as our supply access is limited right now) and undergo a health screening process to ensure that everyone in the office is well.
  • You will be taken straight back to your treatment chair to reduce any in-office wait time.
  • Scheduling of future appointments can be done over the phone with our staff in order to reduce the number of people in our office at one time.
  • If your child is 10 years old or more and you feel comfortable having them come to their appointment alone, we are encouraging that at this time. Children younger than 10 years old should be accompanied by a parent. Only 1 healthy parent will be allowed. We can arrange a phone call with your child’s orthodontic assistant or your child can conference you in on their cell phone at the end of their appointment if you have questions or would like an update.
  • We will, of course, continue to follow all CDC and OSHA requirement for sterilization and disinfection of treatment areas and instrumentation. Additionally, our staff will be disinfecting all non-treatment touchable surfaces in between each patient.

As you can tell, great time and attention has been put into ensuring our practice is safe for patients and staff to come back to. This will not be a perfect process of reopening, but please understand we are doing everything we can to make it the best process possible. Please exercise patience and understanding with me and my staff in the coming weeks and months, as so many of you already have. Your treatment progress is important to all of us, and we are doing everything we can to keep you moving forward. If there are frustrations throughout this process, please communicate with us kindly, and we will make every effort to understand your concerns and offer any possible solutions to meet your needs. Despite all of these changes, we have not changed. We are the same people providing the same great orthodontic care and customer service as before. Nothing will change that.

Here we go! Let’s do this! Let’s get reopened and smiling again!

I am honored that you are a part of my practice,

Dr. Nathan Helm

 


 

Patient Email-Looking Ahead to Re-opening

April 24, 2020

Dear Helm Ortho patients and families,

I hope you and your families are healthy and safe! It has been quite a ride for everybody since mid-March! Nothing is certain. Perseverance and adaptability to change have been necessary more than ever. This morning was another reminder of that for me. As I, along with my team, had started looking at May 1st as a possible date to start the re-opening process of our office, that was quickly changed as Mayor Hancock extended his stay at home order for the city and county of Denver to May 8th.

Your care is important, no doubt. However, in today’s world the consideration of safety has surpassed all other considerations. Because of this, we will be required to continue to exercise patience and wait for the stay-at-home orders to be lifted and to wait for further directives coming from Governor Polis regarding what will be required of businesses in order to re-open. We have already been diligently working on our operation plan for resuming business when the time comes in a way that will ensure the safety or our patients and our team. Ultimately, we have the responsibility to create a model of practice that will allow us to resume care while maintaining social distancing requirements. This will include changes such as:

  • Patients texting our office when you arrive and waiting in your car instead of in our reception area.
  • Health screenings prior to entering the office detecting any fevers or other symptoms.
  • Patients brushing before arriving to their appointment.
  • Patients wearing masks while in the office (we will have limited supply for patients, so we are encouraging you to bring your own).
  • Only one healthy adult will be allowed to accompany a child to their appointment, and if you feel comfortable allowing your child/teen to attend their appointment on their own we encourage that for now. We will not deny a parent the ability to accompany their child if they feel that is necessary, but only one healthy adult and no siblings please.
  • All team members will be wearing masks and other appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • We will ask you to arrive on time to your appointment so that we have adequate time to disinfect and sanitize the office before and after each patient (of course, we have always followed all CDC recommendations on office sterilization and this will not change, but additional wiping and sanitizing surfaces will be implemented).
  • Appointments will be spread out and staggered, and the volume of available appointments will be reduced as a result. We will be expanding our patient days and times to compensate for this loss of appointment availability (please be patient with us as we work through optimizing this to meet everyone’s needs).
  • We have implemented telehealth and virtual appointment technologies into our practice and will use them where appropriate for monitoring treatment progress in an effort to increase appointment availability while maintaining social distancing requirements.

There are many other changes that will be implemented — these are just a few! It’s all in the name of patient and team safety. I know this is what you want for your family members, and I trust you will be understanding of all of this change as we navigate through this together.

We are hopeful that May 11th may be a possible target date to start re-opening, but we will wait for further governing directives before we know that for sure. When we know, we will start calling patients to reschedule non-emergency orthodontic care. I have been impressed with how our patients have handled this time of separation. Each of you have been incredibly understanding of the situation. I ask for your continued cooperation and patience as we continue to travel this road together now and after we re-open. We will be doing everything we can to meet each and every need of our patients, but it will take weeks.

As we all collectively continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to take a moment to say that I, along with my team, are thinking about each of you. We are looking forward to the day that we can resume providing routine care in the office, and we are working diligently to make sure that when that time comes, we will all be safe. Please know that we remain available to connect with you via phone, email, telephone, or virtual appointments for questions or assistance you may require during this difficult time. We will keep you informed about more information regarding future appointments in our office when we know more.

We are all in this together. Please stay safe. And please keep brushing!

Sincerely,
Dr. Helm and Your Helm Ortho Team

 


 

Instructions to Patients During Closure

March 23, 2020

Dear Helm Ortho Patient Family,

Our office is temporarily closed to routine patient care in order to comply with state and federal mandates in place to combat the Covid-19 crisis. We will remain closed until health officials give us clearance to resume normal operation. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. Even though we are not seeing patients during this time, we are still here for you if you need anything. We would love to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns. Our office hours will be reduced, but we will be checking messages and emails regularly.

For New Patients

If you are a new patient wanting to schedule a consultation with Dr. Helm, we would still love to connect with you so that our treatment coordinator can provide you with any immediate information you are looking for and place you on a priority list to schedule your consultation as soon as we are able. Please contact us one of the following ways:

  1. Call our office and leave a message with your name and number
  2. Email us
  3. Click on the “Request a Free Consultation” button on our homepage and fill out the form

Dr. Helm will soon have the ability to do a virtual consultation with you. If you are interested in meeting with Dr. Helm from the comfort of your own home, we can share more details with you about arranging this.

For Our Current Patients

Currently, appointments in our office are limited to orthodontic emergencies only. Even though your regular appointment may need to be postponed during this time, you can help keep your treatment on track by avoiding hard and sticky foods and keeping your teeth clean. Without repair appointments available, breaking a bracket could set your treatment back, and keeping your teeth clean will ensure the best possible result.

If You Are Experiencing a True Orthodontic Emergency:

The American Association of Orthodontists has defined an orthodontic emergency as acute issues involving pain, infection and trauma (not routine loose or broken brackets). Dr. Helm will be available to address such emergencies in the office as needed. To help determine the need for an office visit, ask yourself if you can wait two to three weeks for an appointment. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to call us!

If You Are Experiencing a Non-Emergency Problem:

Telehealth appointments with Dr. Helm or one of his assistants can be made to address non-emergency concerns or to provide guidance on managing a problem with your treatment at home. Please call our office to schedule.

If You Are Wearing Elastics (Rubber Bands):

Dr. Helm recommends that you continue your elastic wear for six weeks from your last appointment, then reduce wear to nighttime for one month. If you still have not been seen in the office, then discontinue wear until your next appointment.

Thank you for your understanding as we all work to get through this together.
Wishing you and your family health!

 


 

Patient Email – Temporary Office Closure

March 20, 2020

Dear Helm Ortho Patient Family,

It’s been a historic and unique week for us all. The American Dental Association and American Association of Orthodontists have made recommendations in response to CDC and Federal Coronavirus Task Force recommendations to limit dental/orthodontic care to emergency-only procedures. On Thursday, March 19, Governor Polis signed an executive order, temporarily suspending elective dental/orthodontic procedures until at least April 14, 2020. The purpose of this executive order is to conserve the use of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.) that is needed to combat COVID-19, as well as to slow the spread (“flatten the curve”) of COVID-19 to avoid exceeding our health care system’s capacity.

As a result of these recommendations and executive order, our office will be temporarily closed to routine patient care until we are given clearance to resume. We will be limiting appointments to orthodontic emergencies only (acute issues involving pain, infection and trauma). Expect limited office phone coverage and regular checking of phone messages during this time. Of course, Dr. Helm will be available to address emergencies in the office and other concerns via telehealth appointments. To help determine the urgency of a visit, ask yourself if you can wait two to three weeks for an appointment.

The timeline for this operational structure is unknown and remains very fluid. We will be contacting all patients who have an appointment already scheduled during this time to confirm they have received notification of the need to postpone their appointment (please check your voicemail if you haven’t). Dr. Helm will review each patient’s chart and we will call you if he feels you need to be seen for a limited appointment. We will not be rescheduling appointments until we have more information on when we will be cleared to resume patient care. We will keep you updated as we know more. Over the next week, we will be developing the ability to complete some new patient consultations as well as growth and development checks via virtual consultation if you are interested in this option.

Even though some appointments will need to be postponed during this time, you can help keep your treatment on track by avoiding hard and sticky foods and keeping your teeth clean during this time. Without repair appointments available, breaking a bracket could set your treatment back, and keeping your teeth clean will ensure the best possible result.

When we re-open, plan to see some best practices in place that will allow us to comply with recommendations for practicing social distancing, limit waiting room traffic, pre-screening for symptoms and exposure, as well as others that we will keep you informed about as they are implemented.

Please know that we are committed to providing the best possible care while following all recommendations released by the CDC, the state of Colorado, ADA, and AAO. We will do ALL we can to take care of you. If we can be of any help, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (303) 371-0371 or email us at [email protected]

Wishing you all health and strength as we get through this together. We appreciate your understanding as we all do our part to “flatten” the curve.

Sincerely,

Dr. Helm