Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dentistry from the Heart

I wanted to tell you, in advance why I cannot write on Friday.
I have a lot going on from now until Friday that I wanted to tell you about.

I went to a lecture about 4 years ago. (The lecture was terrible but this was not the point of this blog).
One thing I did get out of the lecture was something called Dentistry from the Heart. A dentist got up on stage and told the audience about something he does for what appeared to be "marketing reasons". He opens up his office and he and his staff worked on people for free for the whole day.
Now, I don't really care what his motivations for doing it but I just thought that was a great idea. Taking one day and treating people for free is always a good thing.

About a month later I was asked to volunteer for a free dental day. They told me all about the kind of thing they do.
They say 3 previous weeks the patients come in and are screened. They have to bring in a W-2 form or some form of income verification. To see if they are poor enough to meet the standards of patients they want.
Now first of all, to me, the screening seems like too much work. Second of all, I don't want to help just the poor of the poor. The person that came to mind was the single mother of three, she makes $30,000 and now her tooth hurts. She probably doesn't fit in this poor of the poor box but she could benefit from a blessing just like the next person.

Our office decided to do this but to do things our way.
We decided to do our own Dentistry from the Heart.
In our Dentistry from the Heart there are no rules. Its first come first serve. No screening. No income verification.
Sure there are people that take advantage but.... If a person wants to wait four hours to have a tooth pulled, they meet our requirements.

This is how we do it.

We have 7 operatories in our office. We desire to have 6 rooms going at a time and the seventh room is a triage room.
We run two 4 hour shifts. 7am-11am, Lunch, then 12pm-4pm.
We were able to get 9 dentist and 3 oral surgeons to volunteer. This is a testament to the types of dentists we have in Orlando. Some of the staff of dentists come with the dentists. Some staff members come without their dentist. I have patients that volunteer. It is just a reminder of how I am blessed to work with a bunch of great people.
Now we wanted to make this a real community event. So we call up some of our patients that own restaraunts and they are more than happy to donate food to feed the volunteers.
So there will be breakfast for the early morning volunteers donated by Panera.
And the list goes on...All the dental supplies are donated by Patterson. All the toothbrushes and toothpaste donated by Colgate.
Lunch is then brought in, all donated. We all will be wearing donated T-shirts with the Dentistry from the Heart logo on the front and all the volunteers names on the back.
We start at 7am but because there is such a high demand people will come from far away and come very early, like 3am.
So we have a lot of people waiting a long time in the parking lot. So this year we are going to have rental chairs brought in so they will be more comfortable. While they wait, we are going to have a DJ come, who is also donating his services. Winn-Dixie (a local grocery store) is donating food to be grilled in the parking lot by one of our patients who is also bringing his grill.
Home Depot donated a couple of cases of water.
My staff has worked their butts off trying to make all this happen.
Doesn't it sound awesome.
But this is not the only thing. I read in the paper this weekend that there are 27 free dental days in Orlando in the month of February.
Are you kidding me? I am welling up just thinking about it.

My staff is getting here at 5am to set things up. Then we start cranking about 7 and go full on until the bell rings at 4pm. Then there is the clean up.
Then I have to get on a plane at 6:30 and be at my destination at 10pm.
So all that to tell you I won't have anytime to blog on Friday.

Have a great weekend.
See you next week

ps If you are interested in doing your own Dentistry from the Heart, email me. Jgammichia@aol.com and I will give you all our information and you can hit the ground running.


Anonymous said...

Dr. John,
Sounds like you all have been working really hard for Friday!
I'm so excited!

Jennifer (The Intern)

Anonymous said...


I was one of the folks that showed up yesterday for your Dentistry from the Heart event. I didn't have a chance to get seen (somewhere around 150th - ya'll managed to get around 140 or so in, maybe even more!) but I have to say it was an extremely interesting day and I'd like to thank you and your office as well as the rest of the volunteers that put so much time and effort into Friday's event! Wonderful job!


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