Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dentistry from the Heart

Friday was Dentistry from the Heart.

If you are reading this for the first time DFTH is a free day of dentistry that my office hosts.
It is the idea of a dentist in New Port Richey, FL.
I was at a lecture and heard the idea. He encouraged the audience to take it and run. And run we did.
This year marked the fifth year of Dentistry from the Heart Apopka style. A day in which we give away free dentistry.
We, my father, my staff and myself open all eight of our operatories, put a volunteer dentist in each one and do as much dentistry and help as many people as we can in one day.
We have limited it to just extractions and fillings simply because it becomes an efficiency thing. We feel we can see more patients in a day if we stick to things in our wheel house.
It is a pretty large undertaking and it is something that we start planning about 7 months in advance.
So sometime in August I put up a list of duties and my staff have an opportunity to sign up.
Dentist volunteers
Non-dentist volunteers
Marketing (you would hate to plan all of this and patients not show up)
Dental supplies
Gifts for the volunteers

About one month before the event the planning starts to get crazy. Everyday there is something going on that is related to DFTH.
If it is not a last letter to the volunteers reminding them of their commitment. Or a call to our supplier about material (By the way Patterson Dental donated all of the supplies). Putting the finishing touches on the T-shirts and having them delivered. The marketing is in full swing, tying up loose ends for all the gifts and food deliveries.

The last week is full on crazy.
The newspaper put in a blurb about it. The community sign has the last minute announcement and the calls start coming in. Well once we started fielding about 10 calls an hour we had to create an extension to send inquires to.
I was on a popular radio morning show on Thursday to tell people about the day.
This year was particularly crazy because of the weather. There was a very good chance it was going to rain and we were scrambling.
In addition to all the last minute things we do, this year we were trying to arrange for a tent to be delivered. A not so easy task. One because we are trying to have a tent ordered and delivered and installed the same day we call. And because, did you know you have to get a permit to put up a tent bigger than a 10x10? Well either did we.

Anyways things went pretty smooth. We knew the day was going to be huge.
And with large crowds comes strife. We found this out last year...."He butted in front of me" or "That person was standing in line and then 5 of his family members joined him 4 hours later."
It is really hard to please everyone, but we didn't want this to happen again so we brought in some muscle.
My assistant's husband is a retired police officer and chief of police. My front desk person has a son that is graduating from the police academy next week. And he brought one of his classmates.
And the three of them were "keeping the peace" all day.

So we tried to think of everything, and the more you do this kind of thing the better you get at it.
So I went to bed hoping we had thought of everything. We went to bed hoping we planned everything well.
In my mind I had to put the finishing touches on the planning and start to think about the 10 hours of work that we were going to do. It is like a wedding. You plan up until "the" day and when it is "the" day you realize you can't plan anymore. It is time to execute.

I wanted to get my mind right.
What I mean by this is I had to check myself. I constantly have to remind myself that it is not about ME.
My name is one door of the facility and I am on the radio and in the paper, but it isn't about me.
So many people have put work into this thing, so many people will volunteer, so many people will give money, so people will sit in the cold and the rain for 6-8 hours to have a tooth pulled.
It isn't about me.
I have to remind myself that this day should be a celebration of many people's hard work and desire to serve. And it should be about serving.
I had to prepare my mind for a TV camera or two walking through the office and people asking me for interviews.
I will have to tell a news person why "I" do this.
I have to think of words to say as to why and try to deflect all the attention off of myself.
Sometimes it is not so easy to put into words why you do something. And I had put into words how it is not just about me but it is about the hard work of my staff and all the volunteers and without them this day is nothing.

So on my ride into work on Friday (this year me and my staff started an hour earlier. They were here at 5am and I strolled in about 5:45am) I always give them a call. My staff member has excitement/psychosis in her voice, "Dr. John it is so crazy here, you better hurry."
This is literally music to my ears. Crazy is good.

To finish today's blog I want to leave you with a couple of things.
There were 100 (yes, I said ONE HUNDRED) people waiting in line at 6am. The first patient got here at 9pm the night before and slept in the walkway to the door.
I will tell you all about the actual day on Friday.

Have a great Wednesday,


Anonymous said...

This is just so awesome. Rest well tonight knowing you have made a difference in the lives of so many. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the actual day.

Anonymous said...

Sign me up to help next year- maggie!

Unknown said...

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