I have to commend you for publishing the May 2011 feature on rural hygiene and dentistry by Cheryl Ivy. So often, things are discussed in large city/town terms, with the rural communities often falling by the wayside. The demographics and situations are similar to the larger areas, but in many ways they are different too.
My "Doc," as the entire town calls him, has no problem coming into the office at 11 p.m. or working over the weekend because of a TA that was called in. His cell phone, and occasionally my own, are the emergency/call services. It's not uncommon for him to barter with patients for work or services in return for dental care. A year and a half ago, his house burned down. The construction contractor was paid partially in dental care.
The people I see come from an area of 100 miles in diameter, and every time we are greeted with smiles, local news, family news, etc. Not too long ago we got a call simply to tell us the baby had come, his name, and how big he was. It is such a thrill to understand and experience the community that sees the staff in your office as part of their close friends and family. As Cheryl said in her article, it makes my day when my child patients come up to me in the grocery store to show me their new teeth, or patients that come to me in the store to say how much better they feel now that they are being treated for perio and it's succeeding.
We do a lot of extractions and dentures in our office, and I have seen things in this office I never thought I would see outside of school. In the last five years I have been here, I have seen four to five cases of NUG, several developmental and genetic problems, and many people with simple lack of hygiene instruction or knowledge. I do a tremendous amount of teaching and reassuring patients that, despite the fact that they have waited 15 years to come in for care, they are here now and that's the important thing.
Although I know the time will come when I move on, and probably back to a larger city (I'm from Tulsa, Okla.), for now my little corner of rural Wyoming is where it's at, and I wouldn't trade it for the world!
Melanie Cacek, RDH
I just read your article about "Mayberry RDH," and it was like seeing my life pass before my eyes. I cried.(My family would say that means it's good.)
I have been a dental hygienist for 37 years – the last 23 years for the same dentist. Everything Cheryl Ivy, RDH, CDA, wrote about her life in a small town applies to my life with my patients.
Thank you so much for printing this article. I enjoy your magazine.
Deborah A. Lappin, RDH
To submit letters to the editor, send to: RDH, P.O. Box 3408, Tulsa, OK 74101; [email protected]; or (918) 831-9804 (fax).
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