Dentistry from the Heart
Last year's lessons shape free-care day
Dr. Brian H. Kvitko of Dr. Kvitko, Metnes and Associates learned some lessons last summer when he set out to offer free care to a record number of people under the Dentistry from the Heart program.
"The first thing I learned is how important it is to do it again," he said last week. "It was probably the greatest thing I think I've ever been involved in. It was so rewarding."
June 17, 2011, also was exhausting for Kvitko, the members of his dental practice on North High Street, other dentists and volunteers who treated hundreds of people, although not quite the record-setting 526 that had been the goal going in.
"And yet, I felt better than I had in years," Kvitko said. "It almost made me feel guilty: Am I doing it for them or am I doing it for me?"
The second Dentistry from the Heart event at Dr. Kvitko, Metnes and Associates, 4308 N. High St., is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 15.
Free cleanings, fillings and extractions will be offered throughout the day, not only at Kvitko's practice but also at Whittaker Dental Group, across the street at 11 W. Cooke Road.
The dentists scheduled to join Kvitko in volunteering June 15 include Drs. Erin Whittaker, Jeff Bixler, Matt Tomko, Martin Hertzel, Aparna Sadineni, Sahar Hamzeh, Leslie McDougall, Don Metnes, Justin Beck, Rupinder Kaur, Vincent Lombardo and Robert Stevenson.
"I guess the other thing I learned was, I hated to start turning people away," Kvitko said.
In spite of not breaking the record, he said, registration of patients had to be halted at mid-day last year. That was because different procedures required differing amounts of time to complete, with extractions taking the longest.
Dentistry from the Heart is a national nonprofit organization established in Florida in 2007. In 2010, the last year for which the organization's website provides figures, more than 250 events were scheduled, during which an estimated 30,000 people received free dental care.
Kvitko was moved to start a Dentistry from the Heart event after hearing about the founder, Dr. Vincent Monticciolo of New Port Richey, Fla., while attending a conference in November 2010.
Another lesson learned from the June 2011 experience: Providing free dental procedures for hundreds produces a lot of trash -- 38 bags of it, to be exact.
"I hadn't made any pre-arrangements on how to get rid of it, so that was a surprise," he said.
While games and activities were arranged to keep children occupied throughout the day, no thought was given as to what adults would do while waiting. This time around, Kvitko said he and members of his staff have gone to garage sales and thrift stores to buy board games people can play.
A church group last year set up a food booth, charging a small fee. "We discovered that some of these people couldn't even afford to buy the food," Kvitko said.
This time around, donations were sought. "We've had great success," Kvitko said.
Free sandwiches and other items will be provided by the catering arm of Patrick J's, Gresso's Pub and Grill, Tim Hortons and Gatsby's Pizza. Mozart's Piano Cafe and Bakery will donate two large sheet cakes -- and Kvitko said the irony of a dentist providing sugary treats has not been lost on anyone.
Dru Silver of Guitar Lessons Columbus in Clintonville will arrange entertainment throughout the day.
"We want to have music playing," Kvitko said. "We want people to not even realize they're waiting."
The OSU Dental Mobile Coach will be on hand again this year, as will representatives of the Ohio Benefit Bank. The Mount Carmel Hospital Mobile Health Care Van will be new to the scene June 15, arriving at 6:30 a.m. The van normally goes to homeless camps, Kvitko said.
"While they're waiting to get their teeth treated -- and that can be as long as four hours -- they may as well get a free medical exam," he said.
A Columbus City Schools official is helping to coordinate an effort to see as many as 100 children as patients during Dentistry from the Heart -- a departure from how things are handled through the national program, which is limited to adults, Kvitko said.
"It's not in their model, but because we have these mobile vans, I thought, why not include them?" he said.
Also on board for the first time this year will be a group of pharmacists to dispense medications to patients who need them.
"We keep it simple," Kvitko said. "We have a couple of different antibiotics and a couple of different pain medications."
On June 20, to help defray the expenses Kvitko said he knows will be incurred by the second Dentistry from the Heart event, Buffalo Wild Wings will offer him 10 percent of purchases made by people who print a flier from the restaurant chain's website.
Although Kvitko was hesitant after last year's event to commit to holding one this year, he wasn't at all about going for it again in 2013. "I can't imagine me not doing it," he said.