After shutting down an unlicensed dental office in the basement of a southwest Calgary house last week, Alberta Health Services is asking anyone who received services there to be tested for several serious viruses, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
“Our investigation has shown there was not appropriate cleaning of instruments. Whoever accessed services here might have been exposed to blood-borne viruses,” said Dr. Judy MacDonald, medical officer of health for AHS Calgary Zone
“Simply wiping down an instrument with a wet cloth does not reduce those risks.”
AHS is alerting anyone who received dental care at 20 Somervale Close S.W. and/or from Natalia Prohkin, of the same address, to call Health Link at 811 to arrange for simple, confidential laboratory blood testing for blood-borne viruses, including hep B, C and HIV.
While MacDonald couldn’t say how many patients had been treated at the residential office, she did say there were several dental stations and chairs in the basement.
And while there was no evidence of any public promotion of the dental services, even through online advertising, investigators suspect it was mostly family and friends treated at the location by Prohkin.
Investigators at the inspection said Prohkin did not provide a list of patients, and did not answer all of their questions in a forthright manner, MacDonald added.
It is not clear whether extractions or other major procedures requiring drugs and freezing were occurring on site, MacDonald added, although there was some evidence that cleaning and fillings were being performed.
Prohkin, which is a name of Eastern European or Russian descent, was not from Canada.
But MacDonald could not say whether she was licensed to practice dentistry in other parts of the world.
Neighbors of the two-storey Somerset home said they did not know Prohkin or that there was a dental practice being run out of a home on their street.
No one at the home answered the door, which has a sign posted saying “Alberta Health Services has ordered this community healthcare facility closed.” But with wicker furniture and snow shovels leaning up against the porch, it appeared there was someone still living there.
“My biggest concern as a public health officer is to ensure that anyone who accessed services here be tested,” MacDonald stressed.
“To prevent the spread of infection from one person to another, equipment used in dental procedures must be cleaned, disinfected and sterilized according to health standards.
“This unlicensed, home-based dental operation did not have these proper sterilization or sanitation processes in place, meaning individuals who received dental services through this operation may have been exposed to viruses, including hepatitis B and C, and HIV.”
AHS ordered the closure of the unlicensed operation on March 21, 2017. But because the investigation to-date has not revealed a list of clientele, AHS is issuing the health advisory as a means of alerting anyone who received dental care from this operation and the need to be tested.
Officials say the unlicensed dental operation will remain under closure order unless significant changes can be made such that it is operated in a manner that meets all legislative and licensing requirements in Alberta. This includes ensuring the individual delivering dental care is a licensed dentist.