Child's infection sparked action against Guelph Dental Associates
Published Tuesday, July 4, 2017 5:03PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, July 4, 2017 6:42PM EDT
It wasn’t until a child became sick with a bacterial infection that public health authorities were able to move in and temporarily shut down a Guelph dental clinic.
Guelph Dental Associates, an Eramosa Road clinic also known as Growing Smiles, has been closed to the public since June 21.
Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health says the issue is that employees of the clinic weren’t properly sanitizing their equipment.
Unlike restaurants and spas, dental offices are not subject to unannounced inspections by public health authorities.
The only way the health unit is able to investigate a dental practice is to receive a complaint from the public.
There were no complaints about Guelph Dental Associates until June 20, when one was made by relatives of a child who had developed a bacterial infection after a trip to the dentist.
As a result of the inspection and subsequent temporary shutdown, the clinic’s 3,600 patients have been urged to get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
Dr. Nicola Mercer, the area’s medical officer of health, says she’s not aware of any cases of those viruses connected to the clinic.
“The risk to the patients of this clinic is low,” she said Tuesday.
“It’s not zero, but it’s still very low.”
For some people who use Guelph Dental Associates, or who send their kids there, the news of improper sterilization is enough to have them looking elsewhere.
“I feel definitely angry, and sort of betrayed,” said Susie Stauffer, who is a patient of the clinic and who brought her two kids there for treatment as well.
“That trust is gone, and it’s just never going to come back.”
The idea of broken trust was echoed by Joe Cabral, whose two teenage sons were patients of the clinic.
“We’re definitely not going back, because the trust has been lost,” he said.
In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the clinic said it apologizes to its patients and is working with the health unit to reopen its doors.
“While we have no reason to believe that any significant health concerns will arise from this situation, we take this matter very seriously,” the spokesperson said.
Before it can reopen, the clinic will have to pass another health inspection, requiring it to prove that it is sanitizing its equipment properly.
With reporting by Abigail Bimman