Friday, August 5, 2011

Young mother needs dental care

This week I had my teeth cleaned and a cavity filled. Instead of my usual dread of the dentist, I am thankful that I can afford to take care of my teeth. Dental care is a luxury for many people. One of my clients, a young mother in our AYM program, has four impacted wisdom teeth that need to be surgically removed. The wisdom teeth don’t care that she has no dental insurance or funds to pay for this surgery, they are coming in regardless. These four teeth are coming in underneath her molars and one is coming in sideways through her gum line causing extreme pain. Her insurance covers urgent care clinics and emergency rooms that are more than willing to provide pain medication, but if she takes the pain medication then she cannot function at work or take care of her toddler. A local dentist provided x-rays pro-bono and directed me to an area dental clinic that requires a referral from one of four agencies. One agency listed on their website no longer participates in the program. The two others I could get no one to return my calls. Since that initial call two weeks ago, I have talked with eight individuals, two hospitals that offer low-cost dental surgery and two local non-profits that assist with medical issues. Every phone call generated another one – I was passed from person to person, referred to different agencies with no resolution. I am frustrated with the process and can only imagine how clients feel when they are passed on without anyone listening to their dilemma. Alternative House is a referring agency for reduced dental care provided by area oral surgeons; however, 50% of the cost of impacted wisdom teeth surgery is $1,300 – and that was the least expensive provider. Payment plans are not an option. What do people do when there is an issue that requires immediate attention? Right now the only answer I know is to suffer. So far, my efforts have been ineffective, but I will continue to make calls because I do not accept the responses I have received. Society can do better.

Susie Guido, LPC
Residential Therapist
Alternative House

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