Last week, a patient visited my clinic. He was 8.5 years old. He walked in with his mom. His oral health was pathetic. I asked him whether he had visited a dentist anytime in his life. He said no. I asked him if there were any dental camps arranged in his school. He said that his was a government school and no dentists had come to his school.
He was in significant pain and had been under over-the-counter (OTC) medications for the past 2 days. My treatment plan for him included scaling, restorations, few extractions and few pulpal therapies to bring his oral health to an acceptable level. I explained everything to him and his mother and they were willing for everything. Only hitch – cost. I couldn’t make it affordable to the patient and patient was certainly not in a financial position to opt for the complex dental treatment.
I felt helpless. I put him on antibiotics and painkillers (of course, the free samples that are given to me by medical representatives) and asked him to come after 2 days. He went off.
Meanwhile, I had a ear pain and went to consult an ENT specialist in the peripheral area of Madurai. He was a very polite man and a distant relative to boost. On a casual note, I spoke about dental practice and the cost it incurs on patients which prevents most of the poor income group patients to neglect dental care altogether. He offered me a deal. He offered me a place in his hospital at a subsidized cost to set up a practice if that would help make some dental treatment affordable to his patients.
I came home, thought about it and decided that I am going to do something for the future pillars of this country.
Initially I thought about offering free preventive dental treatment to kids of the low-income group in my own clinic. However, two things stop me from doing that.
1. I have a heavy investment in this set-up which needs returns. If an unaffordable patient is going to take up the chair time in my clinic, my affordable patients go elsewhere.
2. The area where I practice – most of the kids have good oral hygiene because there are plenty of dentists around who will arrange camps frequently in schools.
After much of brainstorming, my idea was this – to set up a minimalistic dental treatment centre that will offer free preventive dental treatment (consultation, scaling, restorations, and pit and fissure sealants) to kids of the low-income group in a totally neglected peripheral area.
Next comes the question. How am I going to manage the time? I thought that out. Since my private practice requires much of my time, I thought of employing a recently-graduated dentist. Seemed okay. I have an aunt who is willing to take up the role of managing the centre as a service.
So the final picture:
Set up a free preventive dental therapy centre for kids which will also cater adults but at a subsidized cost.
Any kid who walks in gets a free dental consultation and free preventive dental therapy.
Monthly running costs for this clinic (rent, utility bills, and material supplies) will be contributed by me.
Any profit obtained by treating the adults and kids with complex dental problems will be utilized to pay the dentist and will be adjusted in the next month running cost.
I do not know how feasible that looks. However, I have supreme confidence that I will be able to do something to the society as a dentist. All I want to see are healthy smiles. Not hidden smiles.
The setting up of a dental centre needs money. I am going in for used chairs and furniture. I have booked a dental chair for INR 22K and my funds are done. Need around 78000 INR more. If there is anyone who can support a good cause, please do let me know. I am here to answer your questions. Thank you.
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