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The recent outbreak and now pandemic of Coronavirus, COVID-19 is a serious matter. While it’s likely that many who come down with the virus will recover just fine, all projections point out that some people will not. Worldwide and locally we see precautions being taken in measures which collectively as a global population have not been done in recent times. These precautions should not be taken lightly, they are there for a reason and they are there to keep people safe. 

Fortunately for tattooers and those who work in the body modification industry, taking precaution against viral and deadly diseases is nothing new; we live our everyday lives managing the risks of blood borne pathogens. We deal in blood and ink and with every person we serve, we exercise our abilities to fight against bacteria, viruses, and disease. So what does that mean for you, the customer. Let’s take a look at what we specifically do to keep you safe, and outline the cleaning and precautionary measures we take at One Drop Ink Tattoo Parlour and Gallery. 

Firstly, all of the artists at One Drop Ink are Blood Borne Pathogen certified, as per the rules of being licensed, mandated by the state and county health departments of the state of Tennessee. Now every state is different, so we can’t make a broad sweep about the tattoo and piercing industry, but as for us and the many shops in Nashville, our artists have at least once taken a class, learning about blood borne pathogens, the harm they cause and how to mitigate their abilities in practice. These precautionary measures are taught to us about things like HIV, Hepatitis, Staph, and on and on. If it is a disease which can be transmitted by bodily fluids then we are taught about it. And as such, we develop a mindset that everything has the ability to harm us and that anyone can be a potential carrier.

It’s not you, it’s me; the only time that’s a good thing to hear is when it’s applied to our practices in cleanliness at One Drop Ink. You may not have the virus, but we are going to treat you and the things you come into contact with, like you do. The good news is, we have been doing that to every customer we serve, since day one. It’s not you, it’s me, and we have the knowledge, ability, and practices to keep ourselves and our customers safe, so we employ that regularly to create a clean, safe, and sterile environment to get tattooed or pierced in. 

So what steps do we take to create that clean, safe, and sterile environment? Let’s begin with Madacide. Madacide is the cleaner that we use to clean and disinfect the service area and or station where they work. Per Madacide’s directions for use, “This product kills on hard, non-porous inanimate surfaces when allowed to remain wet…, Human Coronavirus, SARS associated Coronavirus and Avian Influenza A strains H3N2 and H9N2 for 2 minutes.” Which is good because to get the full neutralizing effect of Madacide on all blood borne pathogens we are trained to fight, we actually spray and leave it to sit for 10 minutes before wiping off and fully scrubbing the area. 

If you have stuck around after your tattoo or piercing, you have seen us spray the chairs, the rolling trays, the work station, and our machines and other reusable tools. Any thing which you or your bodily fluids came in contact with, gets liberally sprayed, given time to soak, and then wiped clean before we consider our service finished.

We also are big users of one time use supplies and gas sterilized products. While we will save the rant for how we think it is an unfortunate wasteful byproduct of this, it does give us one security; knowing our products are completely sterilized and have never been used on someone else. Specifically, our needles, the tubes which hold the needles, and needle cartridges are all single use products. There are many more that we use and even if it is not a sterilized product, (like tape, or an ink cup, or a protective bag for our machines) it is not something we can reuse. If there is no way to bring it to a safe sterilized state, then we dispose of it. 

One service area where we do reuse and sterilize things is for piercings. All of our reusable tools are soaked in a solution of Alconox (Often for several days), then scrubbed clean, left to dry, and then packaged into sterilization bags to then go into our steam autoclave. Once in the Autoclave we let the machine run it’s steam sterilization for a total of 35 minutes.

You may have noticed that our sterilized jewelry comes in this same autoclavable-sterilizing pouch, and that is because we also sterilize our jewelry in the same machine, using the same method, sans the soak and scrub as the jewelry was not previously used in a service. There are also methods for doing a “flash” sterilization using only cleaning agents which are completely effective and acceptable, but we generally always use steam sterilized jewelry. 

In order for us to actually provide piercings and use reusable tools, we are mandated to own and use an autoclave. As a part of that, our autoclave is independently tested to ensure it is working properly, on a weekly basis. 

Essentially, in the booth areas where you will receive your service, you are in one of the cleanest most sterile environments we can create. On top of that, we make sure that the tools, instruments, and supplies that we use also are clean, sterile, and safe. We do not compromise that and it is not something new, this is the environment we have been serving you in since we established. We are not racing for new ideas on how to create a safer environment for you, because that is part and parcel to how we do business. 

That being said, we would identify our front lobby waiting area as the most at risk environment in our shop. This is the area where customers frequent the most, it is shared and occupied the most and has the most surfaces one would come in contact with. There is little to no risk of coming into contact with bodily fluids, as we experience in our booths, but it is a general use area where people congregate, and those areas are what are deemed at risk in this state of hyper-safety. Fortunately, we take the cleanliness of our service areas out into the front of house already.  

Our normal, pre-coronavirus cleaning routine consisted of daily cleaning of all majorly used surfaces in the lobby, using anti-bacterial wipes and cleaners. These surfaces include our front desk, our credit card and signature pad, all door knobs and handles, our video game console, and our non porous furniture. We do have cloth furniture which does not allow for the same cleaning practices, and we are now considering a temporary removal of them, or a cleanable barrier to be used on them. 

Now that we are seeing the severity of this pandemic and the recommended precautionary methods put forth  by smarter people than us, we are reviewing our front of house cleaning methods to see how we can improve and expand them. While we feel very good and confident of our current daily practices, we’re committed to giving the utmost we possibly can. We have identified some ways that we can increase the frequency of these cleanings and also have found ways to enhance our cleaning agents to use Madacide, which we have certainty in it’s ability to combat coronavirus. We already take the steps, we just want to enhance those actions. 

Remember, we are not only concerned with coronavirus, we are concerned with keeping things safe against everything we possibly can when it comes to blood borne pathogens. While we understand the need to be even more cautious now, the reality is that we live in a state of cautiousness, everyday.

The biggest problem with Coronavirus is the incubation period, where it takes weeks before symptoms are visible. So while we may not have any visible signs of infection, it is possible that it is being spread amongst us and we just don’t know it yet. One helpful thing we do have though is our customer database and point of sale system, Rev23. Rev23 is great because it keeps all of our services in an easy to use digital medium. So if it comes to our attention that one of our employees or one of our clients has been compromised, we can easily pull up all of our records over any time frame, knowing exactly who has received a service at our shop. With that information, we can quickly notify you of any potential threat that may have existed in our facility. 

All that to be said, our greatest threat in a tattoo shop are the people, you the customer, and us the employees. So if you feel sick or have any reservations about being in the public, we will take no offense on you postponing your idea. If you have a deposit placed and an appointment with us, talk to us. We want to know your concerns and address them with you. We do have a deposit policy, and we do have obligations to maintain that policy, but if you haven’t realized by now, we are not in business to screw you over. We care, we understand, and we will do what we can to work with you through this trying time.