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Treating smiles during a pandemic: How one Forsyth County orthodontist runs a local practice
Dr. Michael Gorlovsky
Dr. Michael Gorlovsky, owner of Windermere Orthodontics, is navigating reopening after the shelter-in-place. - photo by Ben Hendren

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Just a few months before Dr. Michael Gorlovsky planned to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of his opening of Windermere Orthodontics, the novel coronavirus pandemic struck the country, forcing him to close the practice.

Gorlovsky originally opened Windermere Orthodontics in Suwanee back in 2010 after he had graduated from school. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech, moved on to earn his dental degree from the Dental College of Georgia and then he later also earned his orthodontic degree and his master’s from the University of Louisville.

After leaving school, he moved to Forsyth County — close to his childhood home in Gwinnett — and opened Windermere Orthodontics to try to help those in his home community. As his practice has grown, he also opened another location in Cumming about two years ago to try to expand his reach to his patients.

Him and his team of assistants go back and forth between the two locations to help and work with patients, and they have been excited to see how the practice is growing. They did not expect, however, that they would have to drop everything and close the business for two months when the pandemic hit.

The pandemic forced Gorlovsky to shut down his practice in March as he did not want to contribute to the spread of the virus, especially during the beginning of the pandemic when testing was not readily available.

During the couple of months that he was closed, Gorlovsky said he got busy applying for loans, attending webinars on how and when to reopen and making sure his patients were cared for.

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Windermere Orthodontics

Even with the stress of trying to manage both the business front and clinical front of the practice in such an unsure and confusing time, he made a plan to open back up and start bringing in his staff and patients again on May 19.

Although they ended up having to cancel or reschedule many appointments, patients were anxious to get back in and get their treatments started again.

“We have to see our patients. They have ongoing treatments, ongoing care,” Gorlovsky said. “This led to implementation of all kinds of new procedures to continue keeping our team safe, our patients safe.”

Like many others, opening back up for Windermere Orthodontics meant tighter restrictions on appointments to make sure patients and staff both are socially distancing and staying healthy. Before opening, Gorlovsky sent an email to all his patients informing them of some major changes they would notice when coming back in for an appointment.

Now, patients must fill out a wellness assessment at least 24 hours before showing up for an appointment, and when arriving, they are also required to wait for their appointment in their cars. When they get there, they can simply call and a staff member will let them know when Gorlovsky is ready to see them.

As families and patients are starting to come in, they can also notice major differences in how the office looks and how it is being operated. When patients come in wearing masks, their temperature is checked by a staff member, and they have to stay six feet apart from others up until they are seated in a treatment chair.

The practice is also asking patients to brush their teeth at home before their appointment as the toothbrushing station has been closed off and is now used for handwashing, and patients are currently rinsing their months with hydrogen peroxide for 30 seconds before starting any kind of procedure.

“It’s a slow process, but I think in our case, our patients feel — they have assurance,” Gorlovsky said. “They trust us that we’re doing the right thing, we’re disinfecting our office and doing everything we can to keep them safe. So I think coming back to an office like ours, patients have a lot less reservations.”

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Dr. Michael Gorlovsky

While Gorlovsky has made sure all of these measures are in place and that the practice stays clean at all times, he has also started offering teledentistry and online appointments for patients.

“We try to always have the patients convenience in mind right now, and safety in mind as well,” Gorlovsky said. “Doing as much as we can virtually, I think, benefits our patients — keeping them safe while at the same time offering them treatment and whatever they would require to improve their health.”

The new platform is a successful way for Gorlovsky to see his patients, check up with them and their progress and just interact with them while many still may be trying to stay home.

In the future, Gorlovsky hopes to keep using the virtual appointments to meet with patients, and he is even working on setting up virtual consultations for new patients wondering about tooth alignment procedures.

Moving forward, Gorlovsky is still trying to figure out what the “new normal” will look like at Windermere Orthodontics, and now that the practice is back open, he’s looking for ways that he can incorporate best practices from both before and after COVID-19 reached the community. Like many, he is planning day-by-day as many are still unsure of the community’s future with COVID-19. 

“It’s been an interesting few months, but I think definitely we’ll be much more prepared, and know how to deal with this COVID at least,” Gorlovsky said.

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