Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dunkin' Donuts

Hey all,

I was on my way home on Wednesday when, as I was pulling up to an intersection,I saw what I thought was someone hitting a garbage bag with a car, and garbage flying everywhere. It reminded me of when the bird flew in front of that Randy Johnson pitch.

Well, it turned out was a man on a motorcycle being hit by an oncoming car. The stuff flying everywhere were pieces of his motorcycle, and then I saw the guy flying across the intersection. I want to say he flew about 75 feet (to quote Clark Griswald, "50 yards").

I was pulling up to a red light. My heart started to race. What the heck do I do?
I started to call 911 but, as I was dialing, I saw this guy start to move. I threw the phone down and ran to him. I didn't know what I was going to do when I got there, but I ran.

He was starting to try to sit up. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him that he was in an accident and it would be best if he just laid down. He was scraped up pretty badly and his leg was starting to bruise. He had a 4 inch gash on his side but he was not bleeding anywhere. I did a quick check of his teeth and they appeared to be okay, so I maxed out all my emergency skills.

He could move all his extremities and he was fairly aware. Next thing I know, there were about 5 people around me. Someone was flashing some sort of badge but he was not a police officer; he could have been a correctional officer for all I know, but it looked official. I called out for someone to call 911. Some woman was walking around this guy praying out loud calling for Jesus' blood to pour out on this man. A couple of people were milling around trying to make heads or tails of the whole thing.

There was no sense in me asking him if he is alright because he wasn't. But he wanted to try to get up. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him getting up would not be a good idea. He pushed against me; I pushed him down.

It was about 4 minutes of me just kneeling beside him with my hand on his shoulder staring at him and making sure he didn't do anything to make his condition worse. Then I heard all the sirens. Within 2 minutes of me hearing the first siren there were about 12 policeman, 2 fire trucks and an ambulance.

But I am shocked at the casualness of the police officers. I mean, a guy lying in the middle of the street cut open that was just flying through the air after being hit by a car is a big deal to me. To the cops it was like... whatever.

I am not saying they weren't concerned, but it was so everyday for them. It is kind of crazy how this stuff happens really everyday for them and it could get kind of -for lack of a better word - boring.

Anyway, it wasn't boring for me. But after I saw that everything was under control, I kind of just went back to my car, pulled around the fire truck and nine cop cars and continued to drive home. Just in a day's work.

Okay - topic de jour.

I have a patient, very nice, 38 year old female, couple of kids, been a patient for 5years or so. After her cleaning and exam tells my staff she wants to talk to me. I never know what to think of this. Most of the time I hate people wanting to talk to me. Because most of the time it is not to thank me for just being such a great guy and they are thankful everyday for what me being their dentist has meant to them and their family.

So I bring her in a room and she wants to ask me a favor. OH BOY, it is one of them. I already know what this is. She wants something big from me. What is going to be? Her son is on a baseball team and she wants me to be the sponsor? Her daughter is in dance and they are having a performance that needs a title sponsor? Is she starting Amway and she wants me to try some products?

Then she tells me the story. She gets coffee every day at our local Dunkin' Donuts.
She has gotten to know one of the employees and she couldn't help but notice this girl's teeth. She is 25, cute, getting married in a couple of months and has held off getting her wedding pictures because her teeth are so bad. My patient has asked me if I could take care of her.

There are a couple things that I can't say "No" to, and they include people that can't eat and people that can't smile. I said I would see this person and I would see what I could do.

WOW!!! She wasn't kidding.

Do you guys ever get this? Do patients ask favors of you? Is it because I do my dentistry from the heart? Is it because I am just nice? Is the word getting out?

I mean I don't even really know this patient very well. I know she probably knows I go to church, but that is all.

Okay, let's say this happens to you. A patient says that she knows someone that makes $9 an hour needs and $2,000 worth of dental work. And there isn't any way they are ever going to be able to afford it. So they put it in front of you.

Do you say NO? Do you say I will split it with you? Do you say I will do it for a discounted price and have the patient pay you? I didn't know what to do and I still don't do anything.

Sometimes, I feel like if I say I will do it for half price the girl is not going to be able to pay for it. But I know what you are going to say. You are going to say that the patient has to pay something to give it value. So do I charge her $200? Will this make her value $2000 of treatment. But again the $200 would not be for me (because it doesn't do it justice, but it is for her)
I don't know but I think I will do this next time but this time I just went ahead and did it. I think it took me 2 appointments and it took a total of 2 and a half hours.

I got to tell you, I love making people be able to smile. I changed this girl's life. I had fun. I could take photos. Did I tell you I changed this girls life.

You can say I am a fool. You can say that I can't help everyone. You can poo poo all this but....
What better marketing can I do?
I called her to see how she was doing, and she said she was doing great. She also told me she gave the owner of the Dunkin' Donuts my card. She said everyone is noticing and she is giving everyone my card (I really hope she is not telling them I did it for nothing).
And, OH!! That patient that asked me for a favor? I sent her before and after photos and I am pretty sure she is a patient for life.

What would you do?

Have a great weekend,

I've got a 22 mile run staring me in the face for tomorrow. So, if you need, me I will be on the couch all day after my run. It is going suck because all I will be able to watch on TV is college football. It is really going to suck.


Anonymous said...

What you did is a selfless wonderful thing and a good servant! God bless you!

Anonymous said...

As a non-dental professional who reads your blog, I'm fascinated by this case. How did you change her smile so dramatically for $2,000? The difference is amazing!

gatordmd said...

That you first commentor for the nice words.

To the second commentor...
All of these black things on her teeth are cavities. Most of the time us upper middle class people see cavities on the tops of molars or maybe in between teeth. Occasionally we might find a tiny cavity on the facial/cheek side of our teeth in the front.
But to her, who smoked, and didn't really take very good care of her tooth got a cavity on the front side of her tooth.
Let me back up and say the gumline, to someone who doesn't brush well, will be come like a shelf for plaque. If you have plaque on a spot on your tooth for a long time the acid in the plaque will eat through your enamel and cause decay/cavity.
Now if you have this small cavity from plaque and you let it go for 10 years and smoke, maybe some drug use, this is what you get.
So I take out the black tooth until I see good tooth structure. It just looks like a big hole. Then I pick the right shade of composite and fill in the hole.
Some were just the face part of the tooth, others were the face part and the side part.
Now a filling maybe $180-260. I did 10 on her.

I hope that answered your question. It is amazing what a skilled dentist can do with composite now-a-days.
Granted we are really asking the composite to do a lot and doing crowns might be better but they are 900% more expensive.
Now she doesn't smoke anymore and she is taking much better care of her teeth so they might last longer than we hope.

Cesar said...

you, sir, are a stud. good work for the good of humanity.

Suzan said...

Who could not be touched by your kindness.

However,you bring up a considerable challenge for every business. May I offer that the confusion may be an outcome of mixing charity and marketing. A gift should be a gift with no strings, overtly or covertly right? Looking for an ROI on marketing is wise wouldn't you agree?

Lets take this person from Dunkin Donuts. How would you feel if you learned she ordered an expensive gown? What if there is to be a grand honeymoon? Do you have the right to ask? Lets say she picks up the smoking addiction again at $7/day. What then of her inability to afford your services? But wait; what if the addiction is an outcome of a life full of stress, poor role models, failed attempts. Can you, have you the right to judge choices and behaviors? If, lets say, you did learn of her choice for investment, what then would you make of her choices? What might that say of whom she might refer? Would you have any concerns as being seen as an easy mark? What if she is climbing out of other addictions and has a circle of friends who she thinks you could help? There are a myriad of possible influencing circumstances. How do you say yes to her and no to them or others?

Lets go one step further. So suppose having fixed the Dunkin Donuts gal and then comes a single father who is being treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy etc. but your appointment book of charity is filling where the other is not? Now what? OH's frought with complexity isn't it?

Try this on; consider consistently "banking" a portion of profit for charity. A responsible position so that giving can be constant. Then quarterly or whenever, consider all those whose names have been put forth, establish a relationship and examine the clinical conditions. Then consider their individual circumstances and have a board or committee decide which cases fit the criterion in terms of time, energy and money. Choose the priority cases, determine whether treatment will be partial or complete since some circumstances can be temporary. On a case by case basis, a determination could be made about money, keeping in mind that $5 equals $500 since the impact to 2 people may be equal where the dollar amount is not. Also keep in mind that money need not be the only form of captial. Perhaps this person serves hot dogs at your kids ball game. You get my drift.

There are stories behind people's strife. Some outcomes will be about choices and some will be due to uncontrollable circumstance.

The point being there can be no "blanket" policy in my view and would do well to not be ad hoc. Random acts of kindness risk misunderstanding Whereas, thoughtful and engaged choice by both parties is to be respectful of the recipient's sense of self; to be responsible to the community and to the business so that giving can continue.

Having said all that, there is a priceless reward given to the giver, to be sure, which sustains a lifetime. There is also a lifetime gift given to the recipient far greater than the gift itself which also sustains especially when provided an opportunity to be engaged rather than be a passive least for some. Patch Adams (Dr. Hunter Doherty Adams) understands the bidirectional relationship and responsibility.

As for marketing, I think it best to keep marketing as marketing! However, to have your clients be aware that they can submit names, the process, the criterion and the values driving the endeavor may serve.

This I write in the interest of helping others give generously. Keep on giving and good on ya John!

jamie said...

john, gotta say you got some skills! well done!

Western Dental said...

That is amazing work. I really enjoy reading your blog and kudos to you for doing a good deed!

Connie said...

You have made a tremendous difference in this woman's life. I am touched every time I see a before and after set of pictures like this. I don't know how you should handle the limitless need people have for charity care because I know it could take over your entire practice if you let it. But know in your heart that this was a huge blessing to this patient and the many others that you have helped in this way.

Hannah said...

What a noble gift. It's so sad to see when people don't realize the importance of proper oral care until it's too late. Hopefully her story will influence others around her to pursue dental health!

Drew Byrnes said...

Wow, this is just phenomenal. You really did change that girl's life. What a selfless and inspiring act. We could sit and think about all the possible positive and negative consequences for you and the patient that might come from this, but at the end of the day, what is important is that you did a beautiful thing for her and her husband. And in 2 and a half hours?? I had a psychomotor the other day that took me 3 hours... it was a gold crown prep on #18. Yikes. I'm going to need to get up to speed!

America runs on dunkin,
-Drew Byrnes


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