County readies for more relief from state restrictions

Dental services, campground activity facing new looks; tanning operator ready to roll

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – Several additional services in Lee County may have a new look in the wake of COVID-19 closures, as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to loosen ties on the state’s counties.

On Wednesday, Reynolds announced that dental services across the state, in addition to tanning services, medical spas, enclosed malls and campgrounds could all reopen as of Friday under state guidelines.

Dental work will have a new look for local residents as state dental services have been re-established, but Fort Madison dentist Dr. Mark Pothitakis, of Dr. Mark C. Pothitakis and Associates, said safety of the patients and staff are paramount to any opening of the doors.

Pothitakis has two locations in Fort Madison, 726 Avenue G and 4723 Avenue J, on the city’s west side across from Baxter Sports Complex.

Pothitakis said things are going to be totally different in the offices. Pothitakis said he’s still doing emergency procedures and then will ramp up services beginning May 18, but will not re-start regular cleanings and checkups until June 1.

He said that will give him and staff time to take care of more delayed procedures like fillings and tooth pain.

Pothitakis said his offices will implement new safety protocols including requiring all staff to be in masks, and all patients in the waiting room will be asked to wear a face mask. Anyone patient with a temperature greater than 100.3 will be asked to reschedule.

He said staff and patient temperatures will be taken upon arrival, and patients will fill out a health questionnaire regarding COVID exposure and current health conditions.

He’s also invested in new barriers for the office suites, a new high-efficiency HEP-Rx filtration system that exceeds general surgery applications. He will also have N95 masks and face shields. All patients will be given a pre-rinse that helps reduce oral viruses prior to procedures.

He said additional time will be allowed between patients being called back to the suites.

“It will be a totally different environment. More on the side of caution than trying to get people in to get things done. The first couple weeks we’re going to focus on getting emergencies taken care of, solving a toothache, that sort of thing,” Pothitakis said.

He said all of his offices, including the branches in West Burlington, Burlington, Mediapolis, and New London will be open on Monday, May 15th, but the cleanings and hygienist work will start on June 1.

Pothitakis also said he was concerned about continuing to prescribe pain pills for patients that couldn’t get in, with the opioid crisis in America.

“I started thinking about prescribing pain pills with the opioid crisis and everyone trying to get away from that, But they delayed us so long and I prescribed more of the pain pills to get these people by. So that came into play,” Pothitakis said.

“We’re doing everything we can to be safe, but the longer it went some of us were getting concerned we have to get back.”

He said six weeks can have an impact on what would normally be a small issue, not only medically but financially. A small anomoly could become something like a root canal and crown over six weeks and that’s a different patient hardship.

Dr. Pothitakis and his staff can be reached by calling the offices located at the following link: http://www.drmarkdds.com/

Gov Reynolds, who was in Washington D.C. meeting with President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday, released a new order that afternoon that surprised conservation officials in Lee County.

“We were a little surprised by the Governor’s announcement. We were not expecting the Governor to open campgrounds sooner than the 15th,” Lee County Conservation Director Nathan Unsworth said Wednesday.

Lee County Conservation will begin opening their campgrounds this weekend. The campgrounds at Wilson Lake and Pollmiller Park will open Friday, May 8th at 6:00 a.m., but camping spots will be limited to ensure proper social distancing can be maintained.

The campground at Chatfield Park will reopen on Thursday, May 14th, at 6:00 a.m., under the same social distancing. Campsites will operate on a first-come-first-serve basis until Monday, May 18th. On May 18th, all campsites will reopen, and reservations will be allowed again. All restrooms, cabins, and shelters will remain closed during this time and will continue to be closed until further notice.

Unsworth said all park visitors and campers are encouraged to practice social distancing by maintaining six feet between them and others. Campsites are to be occupied by those from an immediate family/household only and groups should not exceed ten people. Campers are encouraged not to intermingle between campsites. These restrictions and guidelines will remain in place beyond when all campsites reopen.

Campers and all other park users are highly encouraged to follow all of the social distancing recommendations provided by health agencies. The Lee County Conservation Board, under the advisement of the Lee County Public Health Board, reserves the right to alter its operations if safety guidelines are not being followed or are unable to be maintained.

For more information about Lee County Conservation Board’s campgrounds, please call the Conservation Office at 319-463-7673. All camping reservations are made online at www.mycountyparks.com. For all future updates, please follow Lee County Conservation on Facebook.

New Dimensions will be opening Friday at 10 a.m. for tanning and Red-Light therapy sessions and gift certificate sales. Owner Jenny Craft said she’s been contacting people with current active packages about the reopening but said customers can start calling tomorrow to set up appointments for tanning, as well as hair appointments.

The governor’s current emergency order expires on May 15th at 11:59. Without an extension, hair salons would be allowed to open on the May 18.

Craft said there is plenty of room for social distancing and the beds are sanitized per health department guidelines between each session.

“Our tanning rooms are sanitized between each person anyway with medical-grade cleaners and we’ve always been using that,” Craft said. “So we’re ready to go. We will have masks if someone feels more comfortable, but they’d have to take that off before they get in the bed anyway.”

Craft said New Dimensions was fortunate enough to obtain one of the Iowa Economic Development Authority grants in the second or third round so she said that helped bridge the gap for the business during the mandated closure.

“We haven’t had as hard of a time as some that didn’t get a grant.”

For more information contact Craft at New Dimensions at 319-372-6291.

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