Baldetti: Health Department keeping secure office after digital hostility-UPDATED
Posted May 18, 2020 11:24 PM
Correction: A previous version of this story implied that the Sheriff's Office was certain of the identity of the caller to the Health Department. The investigation continues, but after a Monday evening call from Sheriff Campbell, they have not come to a definitive conclusion on that yet.
Reno County Health Department director Nick Baldetti is having to deal with more negatives than just COVID-19.
"At the Health Department, unfortunately, we've received some rather hostile communication," Baldetti said. "It seemed to ramp up last week. We are actually, at the Health Department right now, we are locking the door throughout the day and a staff member will meet individuals who have an appointment at the door to let them in."
Baldetti believes the frustration is not necessarily directed toward local policy, but his staff is taking the brunt of it.
"The Health Department is the proximal entity to decisions being made in Topeka," Baldetti said. "It seemed some of that frustration and hostility that's in the community has been focused toward this department."
Baldetti did communicate with the Sheriff's Department on the issue.
"We're just looking into it," said Reno County Sheriff Darrian Campbell. "We're making some phone calls. I just want to encourage anybody that if they feel threatened or suspect anything, not to hesitate to call 911."
Campbell said they have not confirmed the person's identity who may have called the Health Department. Baldetti would not characterize the communication as threats, but believes the comments require some caution, in this day and age.
Dental offices across Kansas closed for more than a month to make
sure they weren’t using up critical personal protective equipment needed
Now many are beginning to clean molars and bicuspids again.
Grimmett of the Kansas News Service spoke with David Lawlor, a dentist,
and Julie Martin, the president of the Kansas Dental Hygienists’
Association, to find out what you can expect when you go and how they’re
trying to keep patients and employees safe.
The interviews were performed separately. The questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Kansas News Service: What are the expectations for getting back up and running?
Lawlor: We’ve been pushing patients back for six weeks. I think at
first people originally we’re trying to do their best to deal with it.
If it’s something I can put off for a while I will. But the last couple
weeks it’s kind of been like we reached our limit and people got to get
We’re having people stay out in their car and we’re taking
the temperature of staff and patients. We’re wearing masks, we have face
shields, we have gowns, and for our cleanings we’re not using the
Cavitron (a machine that uses ultrasonic sound waves to remove plaque
from teeth) which is a thing that can aerosolize the virus. We’re doing
mostly hand scaling.
KNS: You mentioned the precautions
you’re taking, but is there some extra hesitancy from you or your staff,
saying, you know I'm working with spit all day?
Yes and No. It’s what we do all the time. We’ve always been at higher
risk for getting sicknesses because we’re working in people’s mouths.
So, that’s been the main thing, trying to limit the amount of high air
flow into the mouth that causes things to get into the air. And you know
what? I think it’s all going to work out and be just fine.
KNS: Have you heard from any people that are afraid to go back to work?
Martin: It wouldn’t be normal to not be afraid to go back to work.
Because if our vigilance isn’t high, then complacency comes into play.
mean our procedures, the nature of our job is removing the bacterial
load that’s in our oral cavities. And a lot of our equipment does
produce those aerosols. That includes your polishing. That involves
splatter. Some of your ultrasonic equipment which has, like the water
spray and the vibration. That also creates an aerosol. So I mean, pretty
much everything that we do can exasperate that potential for spread.
KNS: Financially, what has it been like taking six weeks off?
This is a tough choice. If we don’t go back to work we can’t pay our
bills. So, the economic issue of all of this is devastating. Having to
go back to work is great, but is it worth risking your health and the
rest of the public’s health that you care for, is it worth it? That’s (a
decision) each individual, each oral health care provider needs to
KNS: Should you go to the dentist right now?
You know, if you have an infection and you are in pain, then absolutely
go in and see the dentist. Get that taken care of. Because if you do
have infection and do have pain it has a tendency to spread into the
rest of the system.
Brian Grimmett reports on the
environment, energy and natural resources for KMUW in Wichita and the
Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett
or email him at [email protected] The Kansas News Service
is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains
Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and
their connection to public policy.