Not “Just a Dentist” – Dr. Kim Is So Much More

In Impacting Patients by Theresa Narantic

We all know the routine.

At our dentist office, we prepare days in advance for patient care, we preview charts, note opportunities for improved care, and provide service for every patient. Inevitably, we all have those patients we know will take just a bit more energy. So, when their names show up on the schedule, we make a mental note and brace for impact. However, we also have patients who restore our energy and bring life to the team.

Enter Sammie, only four, who electrifies the office.

At the morning huddle, we discuss every point that needs to be addressed for the day and everyone smiles when they see that Dad is bringing Sammie in today.

At Sammie’s age, there are few things more satisfying than a trip to Walt Disney World or hearing Dr. Kim announce she is cavity free. The excitement amplifies as a celebratory photo shoot begins. Julie, her hygienist, takes a picture for the No Cavity Club, while the office manager, Jeanette, takes a photo for their Facebook page and her Dad snaps a picture to send to her Mom. She is delighted, smiles cheesy for her photos and proceeds to the treasure chest to acquire her prize for her outstanding behavior.

What started as a routine checkup turns into a celebration of excellent oral health and home care that fosters a close relationship between Sammie and her caring dentist.

More than just a dentist.

While Sammie continues to infuse the team with her enthusiasm, Dr. Kim asks her dad to stay behind in the operatory to discuss Sammie’s health. This time, though, it has nothing to do with her teeth, any cavities, or brushing habits. This time, it has everything to do with being an exemplary, compassionate, healthcare provider.

Dr. Kim inquires, “While I was doing Sammie’s exam today, I made an observation that I want to share with you. Have you noticed anything peculiar with the right side of Sammie’s mouth? It seems that the right side of her face, mouth, and even her eye are drooping.”

Both Dr. Kim and Dad walk up to the administrative area where the celebration continues with choosing the perfect prize from the treasure chest. Dad says, “Sammie, let me see that sparkly smile.” She flashes a big, toothy grin and gets right back to the major decision for the day.

A diagnosis started at the dentist.

The next patient arrives, but it does not distract from the importance of this topic. Dad shares that both he and his wife had recently noticed that she seemed to be more deliberate in her steps taken with her right foot. He describes that it is almost as if she is conscious of picking that foot up and placing it down, rather than subconsciously walking. He says that although he and his wife have noticed this, they concluded it was simply an awkward phase she would outgrow.

Being a dentist means going beyond dentistry.

Dr. Kim suggests Sammie’s parents make an appointment with the pediatrician. She says that it may be nothing but would feel decidedly better if they found out for certain what the cause could be.

One afternoon, Sammie’s dad comes into the office without an appointment. Between patients, he and Dr. Kim go into her office and discuss the prognosis. At the suggestion of Dr. Kim, Sammie saw her pediatrician, along with a plethora of specialists, including an oncologist. Sammie has an inoperable tumor at the base of her skull. Together, they processed the information and let the tears flow.

Dr. Kim – Doctor, Oral Health Physician, LifeSaver.

She is compassion, care, and empathy. She is an incredible support system for this young family. She walks the path with them, their family, and their friends as they continue this journey with hope. Her dental business now participates in fundraising for the family. Every day, she and each member of the team wear a gel bracelet that says, “LOVE IS STRENGTH, SAMMIES TEAM.” Dr. Kim has made them available to patients in her practice to extend that circle of love.

We are blessed to be in an industry that provides so much.

The providers that care for patients are not just dentists! These men and women make a difference in people’s lives EVERY DAY. We applaud you and hold you in the highest regard. We must work together to educate our patients that the prevention appointments are for so much more than checking for cavities. These skilled, health care providers are saving lives, increasing the quality of life, and educating patients about health every day!

Thank you, Dr. Kim and all of your colleagues, for all that you do.

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