Dr. Mark Levy knew people couldn’t forgo the dental treatments they needed to treat conditions like sleep apnea, temporomandibular joint dysfunction or migraines despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

His goal was to transform his Columbus office – Mark Levy DDS, which specializes in sleep apnea and TMJ dentistry – into a space where his patients and staff could feel safe. And in doing so, Levy invented protocols he trusts may continue into the foreseeable future.

“If I didn’t feel safe, I wouldn’t be working,” said Levy, a resident of the Eastmoor neighborhood of Columbus and a member of Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus. “I’m 65, and I’m high risk because of that. Now with universal precautions and masks, gloves and sprays in the office, I’m not worried at all about coming in.”

To promote a virus-free environment, equipment is disinfected after use and the office surfaces and touched items are frequently disinfected throughout the day.

Patients complete a symptom screening via a phone call the day before their appointment and are required to wait in their cars instead of the waiting room. Patients are then screened for symptoms and their pulse and oxygen level are taken as they enter the office. Only patients are allowed into the office for their appointment, and upon completion of their wellness check, they go to a private room.

Levy and his staff wear masks and gloves, and they sterilize their hands between every patient, according to Levy’s website. Only two patients are permitted in the office at a time in distanced rooms, and once a patient leaves, the room is fogged to sterilize it. The entire office is fogged at the end of each day.

“Patients wouldn’t come if they didn’t feel safe,” Levy said. “They know everything that’s going on before they get here, and I think that really makes them feel protected.”

The protocols and the services Levy’s office offers during a time when many sleep centers are closed due to the pandemic has helped bring patients back, he said. He now sees about 20 patients a day compared to about 25 before the pandemic.

“It’s a little slower now because some sleep centers are no longer testing for sleep apnea due to the virus, and they were the source of some of our referrals,” Levy said. “We are able to give patients a little simple unit that they take home and can sleep in their own bed. We sort of bypassed the fact that sleep centers are not doing as much testing right now, so, because of that, we’re coming back. We’re almost back to normal.”

Levy estimates the protocols will follow his office even after the pandemic ends due to the state of well-being they create.

“I would imagine nothing will change into the non-pandemic months,” Levy said. “We’ll maintain all the protocols we’re using now. Why not? It’s easy, they make everyone feel better and safe – it’s working very well.”

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