The dental practice that stayed open during lockdown
A dentist who kept her practice open to treat patients during lockdown has spoken out about why it was important for her to continue helping people in pain.
Dr Shohreh Ghasemi, of The Harrogate Dentist and Cosmetic Surgery, kept her practice open for emergency treatment after the country shut down in late March following the continued spread of COVID-19.
Dr Ghasemi has treated more than 250 patients over the course of the last 10 weeks – with frontline workers offered treatment free of charge.
Her first steps were to source the correct PPE and discuss the necessary precautions with hospital colleagues in Manchester.
‘I managed to get a lot of PPE together before the lockdown. It cost me a fortune,’ she said.
‘I spoke to a frontline worker in Manchester who knew how to use PPE in the hospital setting. I followed his instructions in the practice setting.’
111 got patients nowhere
The Harrogate Dentist has always offered 24/7 dentistry. But now, patients are travelling from all over the country at all times of the day to get an appointment after suffering with dental pain.
‘Two days ago I had a patient come down from Coventry at 2am for an appointment,’ she said.
‘They had been calling 111 for one week and hadn’t got anywhere. It was very emotional – they were sleeping in the corridor because they were so tired from the journey down.’
The patient left an hour and 45 minutes later – with Dr Ghasemi leaving at 5.30am after cleaning down the surgery.
Another case saw her complete a difficult extraction at 1.30am after a patient came in with an infection in the left side of her jaw.
She said: ‘Even her eyes were throbbing – it simply couldn’t be left untreated. I had to remove the infected root.’
All about the patients
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) got in touch with Dr Ghasemi to challenge her decision to remain open – but matters were not taken further after they talked through procedures.
‘The CQC contacted me and I sent them photos of my full PPE and explained the exact procedures I was following and the measures I was taking,’ she said.
‘I was told I was even doing it a little bit over the top, which I would prefer of course.
‘I respect regulations but what about if we have the correct knowledge and the correct PPE? What about morals and ethics? This is why we have a certificate as a dentist.’
Dr Ghasemi said her decision to stay open revolved around her passion for keeping patients pain free.
‘I really care about my patients. It’s all about the patients. I opened it for people in need – some are trying to remove their own teeth,’ she said.
‘Practices should be able to take care of their own patients in their own towns and cities. It’s unfair that patients have to drive for six hours.
‘I hope people will be inspired by this.’
Dr Ghasemi kicked off her career in Sweden. She then moved over to the UK to work within the NHS before opening The Harrogate Dentist.
The CQC has been approached for comment.