Remembering a beautiful smile

August 20, 2014 Posted by admin

BarbaraThis is Barbara, a DDS patient whose brilliant smile conceals the harsh reality of her medical condition.

Barbara has a brain tumor and cervical and neck fusions, along with other medical conditions, that leave her in unremitting, debilitating pain. Housebound, Barbara is often bedridden for weeks at a time. A “good” day is one where she can get herself out of bed.

On one such good day, her caregiver braided her hair, and she put on makeup and a lovely dress to pose for this picture.

Barbara is determined not to let her disability define who she is. Her willpower shines through her beautiful blue eyes and dazzling new smile.

She is extremely grateful for the Donated Dental Services program. Before DDS, her mouth was full of abscesses and broken pieces of disintegrating teeth, the result of powerful medications and radiation treatments. Her dental care was often interrupted by medical crises such as a broken neck.

But Barbara’s dentists and lab accommodated her every need and saw the case through to completion. She received a full-mouth extraction and full upper and lower dentures. Now Barbara can chew and eat the healthy foods that contribute to her overall improved wellbeing.

Barbara passed away in July 2014.

Q&A with Lilian Marsh, Executive Director

August 20, 2014 Posted by admin

What was MFDH like when you joined?

When I joined in 2002, we were providing $480,000 of donated dental services for 250 patients. Twenty-five years later, we’ve more than doubled that amount – $1.2 million a year for 465 patients. Of course, none of this would be possible without my dedicated team of patient care coordinators and our incredibly supportive board of directors. The board president, Dr. Murray D. Sykes, is committed to the foundation’s mission, and provides me with endless guidance.

Do any particular memories of your time at MFDH stand out?

My first week on the job, I spoke to John, a quadriplegic living in a nursing home. In his thirties, John was disabled by a car accident while driving to his job in Frederick. After many months in a hospital, he was moved to a nursing home – he had no family to take care of him. And he could barely eat – the accident had left him with broken teeth and a broken jaw. Each time I called John, a nurse had to put him on a speaker phone. DDS donated dentures so that John could eat again – his only pleasure in life. “Lilian, I can finally eat,” he said, “and your phone calls have meant so much to me, to know that somebody cares enough to check up on me.” I spoke to John off and on for four years until he died of pneumonia. When I learned of his passing, I walked outside to cry.

Working at MFDH sounds very rewarding.

It is rewarding because we touch so many lives. The work we do would not be possible without the committed support of our community of volunteer dental health professionals. DDS has more than 500 volunteer dentists from across the state. I wish I could visit every one of them to thank them personally, but I know our patients do that through their heartfelt letters and cards.

What is your vision for MFDH’s future?

I hope to see a day when all Maryland residents have access to dental health care.