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Adding Caring to Dental Care

Adding Caring to Dental Care

If you have ever had an abscessed tooth or cavity, you know the pain can be debilitating. For the uninsured, the cost of dental treatment often means learning to live with the pain and other problems linked to diseases of the teeth, gums and mouth. Enter Joan Pino De Las Casas, DDS, dentist and compassionate caregiver who is employed by Valley Health to provide dental treatment to the region’s uninsured and low-income residents (including those on Medicaid) at free clinics in Winchester and Woodstock.

“The extractions and root canals I perform at the clinic make a big difference for many of those I see who have often neglected dental care, frequently because of the cost,” notes “Dr. Pino,” as he is known to his patients.

Dr. Pino estimates that 60-70 percent of his patients make an appointment to deal with a dental emergency, but sometimes he finds symptoms of more serious medical problems requiring additional treatment, and even occasionally, hospitalization. “I recently saw a patient who was having difficulty speaking, and after a preliminary exam, I determined the man had a stroke and needed immediate medical intervention.” In this situation, Dr. Pino’s quick response saved the patient’s life—not just his tooth.

Dr. Pino received his dental degree in Peru, and then attended a three-year residency program at the University of Connecticut. He was honored when he was recruited by Valley Health, working with Pam Murphy, executive director at the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic in Woodstock, to sponsor his employment in the U.S. Now he and his family are happily settled in the Shenandoah Valley. “This is a great place to raise a family, and I get to do work that makes a difference. Being bilingual is an asset since I work with a diverse population that includes many Spanish-speaking patients.”

Murphy is generous in her praise for Dr. Pino and the care he provides for the clinic’s patients. “Dr. Pino has such a warm chairside manner; he is calm and kind,” she adds. “Even adult patients who come in shaking in fear of dentists, leave with big smiles. A few have even given him hugs on their way out the door!”

There is increasing evidence that dental disease is associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic health problems, so Dr. Pino is heartened that he is performing more routine exams and cleanings as the word has spread about the subsidized services offered.

“It is rewarding to see that the recall rate at the clinics is going up. More patients are getting cleanings and routine care, which is very beneficial in the long term and can prevent more serious problems. This is an important service that Valley Health and the local free clinics provide to the community, and a great investment in our people. I am proud to be part of this great team!”