Columbia College of Dental Medicine ElderSmile Program Clinic


I was born and raised here in New York
and I haven’t had this kind of experience at any other institution. The work is excellent
and the people are very nice. It’s been great to treat them. They’re really a population in need
and we’re here to provide the service. ElderSmile’s a great program. We’ve constructed the program,
or built the program really with four different components:
patient care, research, the third is education, and the fourth is advocacy or policy. We felt we needed to begin really
with provision of care because little else you do will really impress the people
who are in greatest need of the services. When I came in the bottom of my teeth was
so dirty Dr. Forefa cleaned it, and it made a world of difference. We surveyed adults in Central Harlem. The number one health complaint was problems
with their teeth and gums. So when they hit 65, even if they had
a great job, and they’ve had medical insurance, dental insurance, when they are on Medicare,
which covers their medical issues and covers them quite well,
it doesn’t cover dental. So if you’re on a fixed income,
you have to pay for your rent, you have to pay for your food,
you have to pay for other items, and now you’re saying maybe I should
sacrifice my dental care. Before I got any dental work done,
I was being kind of shy around people because I wasn’t sure of how I looked
and now that my teeth are getting fixed, I’m not afraid to open my mouth. Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
has the expertise to coordinate services for seniors in northern Manhattan,
and here in our facility we’re seeing patients from Washington Heights/Inwood,
from Central Harlem, from West Harlem, from Manhattanville area,
as well as from the Bronx. So we’ll send a group of individuals
consisting of faculty, dental students, and residents to a prevention center,
usually located in a senior center, so we’re able to access a larger number
of people around the treatment center at these prevention sites, but only send for
care those that require care. As a clinician, I’m thrilled
because I get the patient back, they’re happy, I haven’t had to go
through fifteen phone calls to get them to where I need them to go,
they get the services that they need when they need them, and I get their care
finished in a finite amount of time. I never thought I’d say it’s good
to go to a dentist, but it has been for me. I just can’t tell you how appreciative I am
of the kind of care that I get here.

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