Dental Hygiene Program shines despite the odds

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dental hygiene students have had to adjust to new restrictions while meeting requirements for their coursework. When West Liberty University was required to be completely remote in Spring of 2020, many students, particularly seniors, were nervous of how they would catch up on lost time.
Stephanie Meredith, Program Director for Dental Hygiene, said “…senior students have risen to the occasion and have completed all their missed requirements from last spring, plus all their requirements from the fall, and are where they need to be going into their final semester of the program. Senior students have been in the clinic three days a week since August, and our first-year students will begin treating patients in March.”
This has not been an easy feat by any means. Meredith goes on to explain many of these classes require students to be hands-on and collaborate with each other, but due to COVID-19, this has been severely limited.
Dental hygiene students have also had to make changes to the personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by following the guidelines put in place by the Center for Disease Control and American Dental Association. In addition to the usual disposable gowns, glasses, face shields, hair coverings, and gloves, students and others have had to add a KN-95 mask under their normal masks. This acts as another layer of protection against potential exposure from being in close contacts with patients. As Meredith explained, the pandemic has made obtaining PPE for the program’s 70 students troublesome as it has been primarily allocated to those on the front lines.
Another adjustment has been to the program’s patient protocol. There is now a pre-screening questionnaire regarding COVID symptoms and exposure that must be filled out beforehand. Temperatures of students, staff, and patients are recorded as well. Clients must wait in their cars before appointments as no visitors are allowed in the clinic if they are not being actively worked on.
Meredith also commented, “we hope for an uneventful, yet very successful, remainder of the semester. We are very proud of our students and their dedicated and strict compliance with all COVID protocols during this time. Our clinic welcomes patients so if anyone is interested in scheduling an appointment, they can stop in the DH department or call 304-336-8633.”
The Trumpet would like to extend this sentiment by thanking the dental hygiene students for their hard work, and by wishing for a healthy and safe semester for all students.