It’s All About the People

On Monday, a woman walked into our office crying and in pain. She wasn’t a patient of ours. She had no appointment. And we didn’t accept her insurance.

Her mother had driven her here—why they chose our office to stop in wasn’t clear.  The woman, in so much pain, had just come from another dentist’s office after having two teeth extracted. She said she knew something wasn’t right and pleaded with us to see her. Of course we would. I asked for her name: Erika.

With a patient already in the chair, I told her it would be about a 30- to 45-minute wait. She gratefully sat down. I gave her mother paperwork to complete. And I sat at the front desk watching this poor woman struggle as she sat in the waiting room. She was hot and looked like she might pass out. I had the urge to go out and hold her.

Instead, I brought her a cold, wet cloth to put on her head and face. I felt awful for her—she was clearly in agony. Fifteen minutes later, she was still fanning herself. I brought a portable fan out to the waiting room and refreshed her wet cloth with colder water. All I could do was watch her suffer while she waited. It was agony for me too, of a different kind. It had been a long time since I felt such pain for someone else.

Finally, Dr. Kozica was able to see her. He numbed her up to immediately alleviate most of the pain, then he cleaned out the areas that were just extracted. There was puss; there was exposed bone that should have been sutured. He could see how the extractions may have been difficult for any dentist, but it didn’t explain the condition she was in.

Within the hour, relieved of most of her pain, Erika walked out looking 100% better, armed with post-surgical instructions. Because we didn’t accept the insurance she carried, the doctor charge her a nominal fee for her emergency visit. She gladly paid, thanked us, and quietly left.

There was no reason to think we’d hear from Erika again. She had walked in off the street to get emergency treatment, and we assumed she would be a 1-time patient. The doctor asked me to leave a note for the front desk receptionist to her the next morning to check on her. I couldn’t stop thinking about Erika that night, hoping that she was doing well and thankful that I work for such a compassionate and generous man.

I work only a couple of days—Mondays and Thursday afternoons. When I got into work today, I asked about Erika. Apparently, she was doing fine. I learned that she had sent a huge Edible Arrangements bouquet to the office. It warmed my heart that she went out of her way to thank us. She didn’t have to. We were just doing our jobs.

My position is not exciting or high-powered. I work at the front desk. I check people in; I check people out; I do paperwork. Sometimes it’s mundane. But the reason I work here is because it’s all about the people. We care. And people care back. It makes every work day worthwhile. I thank Erika for making my job a greater blessing to me this week. And I hope that others will remember that people should care, people should help one another. I challenge you to do something nice for someone today. It can change your whole perspective on life.

—Sheryl, proud to be a dental receptionist

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