It was another cold, stormy Saturday morning, and I didn’t especially relish the idea of crawling out of bed and heading to Meriden to gather stories from Give Kids a Smile day. Friday, I had driven up to New Britain where our Give Kids A Smile Day was a smashing success. Perhaps the most touching story I heard from there was about a father who had had to cancel a dental appointment for his daughter because they just couldn’t afford it. We all want to do the best we can for our children, and I can only imagine how much it must have hurt the father not to be able to provide his daughter with something as basic as dental care. On Friday, he took his little girl to Give Kids a Smile Day in New Britain. The five year old ended up being able to receive four crowns at no cost as a result of the program.
I picked up some balloons and goody bags in New Britain to bring down to our Old Saybrook office. Old Saybrook has always been a stalwart participant in the Give Kids a Smile program. Years ago, the small office would have a posse of little kids running around waiting for their turn to be seen. Friday morning, there were two teenage boys waiting their turn. One of them thumbed through an old copy of Glamour magazine, and neither seemed all that interested in being there. Perhaps Give Kids a Smile Day is a misnomer. It seems like the adults are happier about getting good dental care for their children than the kids are about going to the dentist.
What would I find when I got in gear and made it to Meriden? I didn’t know how many people would be there, the hours, or how they would react to a social media manager coming to see how they were doing.
We talk a lot in various meetings about ideas like the “Patient Centered Medical Home”. There are all kinds of criteria and considerations about Patient Centered Medical Homes. Yet perhaps the real question of any sort of home is, do you feel welcome? When I arrived at the Meriden dental office, I was met with smiles and a welcome. Staff eagerly told me about the day. One person who had come in asked if there were any additional open slots. When she was told that room could be made, she quickly called a friend who showed up in fifteen minutes with an eight year old who had not seen a dentist in three years.
I listened in as a dentist asked how to say ‘cavities’ in Spanish. He shook his said and said he didn’t know how his most recent patient could not have been in pain from her teeth. In spite of this, the whole scene was infused with joy. Here were people working together, doing what they love, and making the world a little bit better. It even made me feel a bit better about having crawled out of bed on a cold stormy Saturday morning.