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Oregon dental and medical clinics start seeing patients again

Oregon lifted its March 23 ban, allowing doctors and dentists to restart non-urgent procedures.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Dental offices, hospitals and medical clinics in Oregon started seeing patients again Friday for non-urgent procedures. It’s the first major milestone in reopening the state for business.

On Friday, Gov. Kate Brown lifted her March 23 ban on elective surgery and non-urgent care, clearing the way for various procedures from elbow surgery to teeth cleaning.

For patients, the experience may look at feel a little different. Patients are pre-screened, then asked to wash hands and put on a mask at Dr. Stacy Geisler’s oral surgery clinic in Lake Oswego. The waiting room has three chairs spaced 10 feet apart.

Staff wear protective equipment, including a gown, gloves and full-face shield.

“We’re bringing back one patient at a time and adding about 50% more time to care for that patient," said Geisler. “All the hygiene that is required in cleaning all the surfaces and floors, it just takes more time.”

At Legacy Health, priority will go to the most urgent cases. Doctors will only treat about half the number of patients they’d normally see for non-urgent procedures, said Legacy Health chief medical officer Lewis Low.

“It gives us a chance to make sure all the things we’re going to do to keep people safe are working,” said Dr. Low.

Restarting elective procedures isn’t mandatory. The state is requiring clinics and dental offices to have a certain amount of masks, gowns and gloves. Hospital and surgery centers must have at least 30 days of protective equipment, while smaller clinics can restart only if they have 14 days' worth.

As a result, it may take some doctors and dentists more time than others to reopen.

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