Seventh District Dentists and Dental Hygienists lack ofVolunteerism in Dental Public Health Clinics BY: JONI
St Joseph’s Neighborhood Center The St Joseph’s Neighborhood center is a health clinic in Rochester, NY that provides many health and dental services for those individuals who do not have health or dental insurance or Medicaid. It is a service to help the underserved population who “fall through the cracks” and just cannot afford health or dental services.
Many volunteers, but where are all the Dentists and Dental Hygienists? The clinic has an abundance of volunteers including Dermatologists, Physicians, Physicians’ Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Gynecologists, Pediatricians, Chiropractors, etc. As of today there are over 800 dentists and Dental Hygienists who are members of the Seventh District Dental Society and the Seventh District Dental Hygiene Association. Also, many dentists and dental hygienists in our community chose not to be members of the two societies mentioned on previous slide. The problem is very few dentists and dental hygienists from the Seventh District Dental Society and Dental Hygienists Society volunteer at any outreach public health clinics and those who do are usually retired dentist or dental hygienists looking to give back to the community. As a result many patients are turned away due to the lack of dentists and dental hygienists to treat them.
Solution!!!!! My thoughts were if I could appeal to the Dentists and Dental Hygienists in the Seventh District to volunteer their time and see one patient a year at no charge to the patient either in their private office or in the clinic, this would help these patients get the dental care they so deserve.
How to get these Dentists and Dental Hygienists to say YES? The clinic director of the St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center has told me that if I could execute this plan successfully this would be a miracle. She has appealed to the Seventh District Dental Society herself in person and has received practically no support from our local dentists.
How to get these Dentists and Dental Hygienists to say YES? My idea was to attend a Seventh District Dental meeting and plead my case. One advantage I have over the present dental director of the clinic is that I work for one of the Board Members of the Seventh District who also holds a position as a member and delegate for the American Dental Association which holds a lot of depth and weight in our community. He is very well liked and respected in my community and if he introduces me, all eyes and hopefully ears will be on me. I would also like to attend the next Board Meeting that the Seventh district Dental Hygiene Association holds in September and plead my case asking for more dental hygienists to volunteer at the clinic.
Persuasion My thoughts were to appeal to the human aspect of these dentists and dental hygienists explaining to them that I am sure they know family members or close friends who have lost their jobs or dental insurance especially as of late due to the recession. I will try to appeal to the fact that we all have been hit by the recession in our community so we know first hand what it feels like when patients cancel appointments due to lack of funds or dental insurance, leaving the dentist with multiple openings in his or her schedules.
Appeal to the Dentists and Dental Hygienists What would be so difficult to see only one pro-bono dental case a year? That would treat at least 800 undeserved patients a year. WOW!! The dentist could write it off as a tax reduction He or she would be a hero in that suffering patient’s eyes and I could pretty much guess that when someday that patient does get dental insurance or gets back on his or her feet, he or she will visit that dentist again remembering how kind and generous that dentist and the dental hygienist was. Also, I believe the patient will be so grateful that they will tell many others who will perhaps seek this special dentist out. I have seen this process unfold personally, so I know it works. Word of mouth is the best advertising around.
Incentives to get Volunteers If Continuing Education Credits were given to each dentist and dental hygienist who volunteered he or she would be able to meet some of the mandatory credits needed each term to keep his or her license active in the State of New York. Many Institutes offer free Continuing Credits as well as NYS Dep’t of Education. There are many incentive Programs available to create more volunteerism in NYS for dentists and dental hygienists.
More Incentives The majority of the residents in Rochester NY receive a Sunday paper. I believe the dentist or dental hygienist who performed the free service to a member of our underserved population should be named as well as the patient’s feedback. I believe people in the community will be drawn to a dentist who really cares and wants to give back to the community. What a great way to have free publicity. I am also proposing free advertisement on the Seventh District Dental Society website naming which dentist or dentists of the month gave freely of their time to help the underserved population. I was hoping this would create a sense of obligation with the other dentists because they do not want to feel left out.
Funding To advertise on the Seventh District website is free as long as you are a member, and one of my two employees would take care of that aspect since they are both very active and long term members. Of course it would be have to be voted among the board members for permission but I am not anticipating a problem. I am very much aware that this is a commitment for these dentists and dental hygienists but I know the mark-up on these crowns and bridges because I work side by side with dental lab technicians. It is not going to break a dentist financially if he provides one pro-bone case a year. With at least 800 dentist in our community we actually can provide services for more of our underserved population. It will be a “win “win for the dentists in the long run.
FundingAs far as the local newspaper, It would cost so much per line and Iwould actually either fund this myself or use monies donated to the St.Joseph’s Neighborhood Center to cover the costs. I am so passionateabout this that yes indeed I would fund the advertisements myself. It isfor a great cause.I am aware that each dentist and dental hygienist is providing a servicefor free and this will come out of his or her pocket. But again, they canuse their volunteerism as a tax write-off.
Website for St Joseph’s Neighborhood Center http://www.sjncenter.org/