In February, shortly before the pandemic closed dentist offices in the state, Dr. Jacob Ihle purchased Hanley Murphy Dental in Fergus Falls and renamed it Otter Tail Dental.
Before coming to Fergus Falls, Ihle was working as a dentist in Virginia, Minnesota, and Grand Rapids.
“I wanted to be closer to family. I grew up in Fargo and Fergus is just a nice community, it’s a lot closer to Fargo than (northeast Minnesota) where I was for about seven years,” Ihle said about the purchase.
The location remains the same at 1409 College Way. Dr. Mark Murphy works alongside Ihle, having practiced dentistry in Fergus Falls since 1993.
Minnesota dental offices were allowed to reopen in mid-May as long as they developed and implemented a COVID-19 safety plan. Otter Tail Dental is accepting new patients and is currently open, operating with a few changes to accommodate state safety measures.
First, patients are screened with a temperature check and questionnaire before being allowed to enter the building. There’s also a HEPA filter that runs 24 hours a day in the building hallway.
Ihle says anyone who works on patients is also required to wear either an N95 or KN95 mask in addition to their normal mask. “We’re also wearing head coverings, that’s something that’s different. We’re also trying to stagger patients, so there’s usually, I’d say, anywhere from 15-20 minutes in between patients so that we can clean very, very thoroughly, and it also allows aerosols maybe time to settle out a little bit,” he says. “I’d say the last thing is, at least for hygiene, we’re not really using any of the ultrasonic instruments right now. We’re trying to minimize aerosol generation for the cleanings, the routine maintenance cleanings.”