Each month, the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who goes the extra mile in their job to change their patients’ lives, influence their patients’ health, and make a daily difference. This month we honor public health hygienist Verna Richardson, MS, BS, RDH.
“Hard-working,” “good communicator,” “very patient,” “dedicated” … these are all words that coworkers use to describe public health dental hygienist Verna Richardson.
Verna began her career as a dental assistant and a front desk receptionist. She enjoyed working in the health field and was attracted to the flexibility that dental hygiene offers, so she became a dental hygienist in 1987, working first in private practice and then in public health, where she continues to work today. Verna earned a Bachelor of Science and dental hygiene certification from Howard University and a Master of Science in Administration from Trinity University.
Learn about other PIRA hygienists
As one of four dental hygienists employed by Health and Human Services in Montgomery County, Maryland, Verna works full-time performing both clinical and administrative duties. She provides care to uninsured and underinsured populations including seniors, maternity, adults, and children. Frequently there are language barriers, but through kindness and caring, Verna is able to connect with her patients. She educates them not only on the importance of caring for their oral health, but also on how it relates to their overall health.
In addition to her work in the clinic, Verna participates in outreach activities at senior facilities distributing toothbrushes, floss, and educational materials. Through a grant, she has been able to work with private practice dentists to provide a limited number of dentures for eligible senior patients, a service that is not provided by the HHS dental program.
As with many hygienists, when the HHS dental clinic closed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Verna debated whether to return to clinical hygiene. Since the clinic is government sponsored, there were many safeguards put in place, which helped her feel more comfortable about returning. But it was mostly her passion for her work that was the deciding factor. “I like my work and I like seeing people who would otherwise not get the service feel good that they too can smile,” she says.
Congratulations, Verna, for your dedication and hard work. Your coworkers and patients appreciate all you do!
Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!