This year we celebrated the third birthday of Wallace’s dental clinic. In those three years, our dental and medical teams have worked hand in hand to bring whole person health care to kids and adults in our community. We’d like to share with you the story of one patient, Duane, for whom our dental clinic became the starting point on a journey toward good health.
Duane walked into our dental clinic earlier this year with a painful dental abscess that had been bothering him for days. The old antibiotics he had left over weren’t helping, and his pain was too intense to ignore any longer. Wallace Dental Director Kyle Geelan saw him right away, treated the abscess, and suggested Duane come back in a couple days for a full exam.
Duane was skeptical about returning. He’d avoided going to the dentist his whole life. But he was also worried about missing work if the pain returned. On his way out, Duane made an appointment for an exam later that week.
When Duane and Kyle began the exam, Duane joked that the last doctor he saw was when he was born. “Why would I see a doctor? What are they going to tell me? I smoke, I used to have a drinking problem… they aren’t exactly going to say something good.”
Kyle understood, and reassured him. “I told him we have a friendly medical staff who would love to see him, who aren’t in the business of passing judgement. It’s not about guilt; it’s about giving him tools, and letting him decide what to do with them.” Two days later, Duane had his first visit with a Wallace medical provider.
After that, Duane began to have a different attitude about asking the doctor for help. He started enrolling in a variety of primary care services at Wallace, including a smoking cessation program. He checks in between appointments to ask questions and get advice.
For Kyle, Duane’s transformation is striking. “Duane is not the same guy who first came in to our clinic. I’m amazed at what can happen when someone is given the tools they need to get healthy, and they run with it. They just need that spark.”
Duane’s story is not rare. Dental crises escalate faster than other health problems. For people with neglected health, a dental emergency is very likely to become their first acute issue to surface. That makes Wallace’s dental clinic an entry point for patients with serious, accumulated health care needs. By treating these dental emergencies every day, our care teams build rapport and create bridges of trust. From there, we can connect patients to the rest of the resources and services they need.
For every person like Duane that we’re able to help at Wallace, there’s another who needs us just as desperately. This holiday season, consider making a gift to Wallace to help provide this care. Your contribution today can mean not only immediate relief from dental pain, but the possibility of a new and healthier future for someone who never thought they’d hear a doctor “say something good.”
Click here to make your gift and ensure affordable, quality health care is available to all.