Success Stories: Chapter 2 – Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped
In this chapter of Success Stories, we feature the Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (MFDH). This organization was formed in 1988 by a group of caring dentists who were passionate about improving access to dental health care for individuals. In 1989, MFDH began the Donated Dental Services Program, which provides dental care at no cost to low-income adults unable to work due to medical reasons.
MFDH recruits dentists and dental labs all over the State of Maryland who are willing to provide their services free of charge directly to patients in their community and dental labs that will provide their services free or at a reduced cost. MFDH patient care coordinators act as liaisons between the patients and the dentists. The volunteer program restores the dental health of medically fragile Maryland adults with chronic and life-limiting medical conditions such as cancer, advanced diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease. The program also provides services to patients with traumatic brain injuries and those awaiting organ transplants.
Qlarant Foundation has been funding the Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped since 2011. Each year, this organization provides over $1.25 million dollars’ worth of dental care to approximately 500 disabled, low-income adults. To quote Lilian Marsh, Director, MFDH: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
MFDH’s clients are immensely appreciative of the services and support provided by this organization. Here are quotes from people whose lives have been improved by MFDH services:
“Thank you MFDH for all of your assistance. You helped me get my smile and confidence back. I will never forget this, ever.”
– Monica, a patient with liver disease and mitral valve prolapse
“[I am] overwhelmed at the prospect of being able to smile or chat with someone comfortably again.”
– Debra, a self-described “little, getting older Nana” with neck and spine fusions and emphysema
Our first MFDH Success Story comes from Rosylyn McDonald, a former elementary school teacher in crucial need of dental services.
MFDH referred Ms. McDonald to Dr. Jeffrey Taylor in Cambridge, MD for an initial dental exam and oral cancer screening. Dr. Taylor discovered a botryoid cyst which needed to be biopsied. Thankfully the cyst was benign! Ms. McDonald was such a gracious patient that Dr. Taylor opted to take her on as a patient and donate his services through the MFDH program. As a result, she received over $4000 worth of dental treatment which included 15 extractions, two partials and one filling.
Ms. McDonald is a wonderful and grateful patient, showing up for each of her appointments over a half hour early. On one occasion, Dr. Taylor’s office was breaking for lunch when she arrived. The staff cared for her so much that they invited her to join them for a lunch out rather than having her wait!
In spite of having health challenges that include resilient high blood pressure, sciatic nerve pain and extreme anxiety, Ms. McDonald’s renewed ability to smile has her looking forward to returning to her volunteer work at the local shelter and to working with children again at church or at a school. She is ready to resume her life again and could not have done so without Donated Dental Services.
The kindness of Dr. Taylor and his staff was life changing for Rosylyn McDonald. The Donated Dental Services program is a fantastic Success Story supported by Qlarant Foundation grants.
Our second MFDH story is about Ms. Susan Vincent, a woman in desperate need who found her song again.
Ms. Susan Vincent just completed treatment by Dr. Craig Stetzer, a general dentist in Salisbury, Maryland. Dr. Stetzer also volunteers with the Mission of Mercy and has helped hundreds of people on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Ms. Vincent suffers from oral cancer that is in remission. During treatment, she had surgery on her tongue to remove the cancer which required all of her teeth to be removed. Susan also underwent two left knee replacements, had four back surgeries, and had a stimulator placement in her spine to relieve her excruciating, chronic pain. Her back was fused three times and she continues to suffer from chronic pain in her back where she says it is still broken. She walks with a cane because the nerves were damaged. Prior to becoming disabled, Ms. Vincent was an architect drafter and a singer. Due to the her embarrassment about her dentition, she hadn’t sung in years
After her treatment was complete she sent MFDH a note that read in all caps, “I WANT TO THANK THE FOUNDATION FOR EVERYTHING! IT FEELS GOOD TO BE ABLE TO SMILE AGAIN! WHAT A WONDERFUL FEELING!”
With the renewed confidence that came with her new dentures she said that she can “sing again, proudly” and is “so grateful!” Dr. Stetzer said, “seeing patient’s smile after treatment” was the most gratifying aspect of this story!
The Qlarant Foundation continues to be impressed by the commitment of the MFDH staff and the impact that their work has had on Maryland residents. Dental issues often must be addressed before treatment for life threatening illnesses can take place. Without the work of this organization, so many would not be able to receive the care needed to save their lives.
The MFDH staff is just as enthusiastic about the Donated Dental Services Program as the patients. Roxanne Mino, Patient Care coordinator says, “I wish you could see [more of] the letters patients send us and hear their heartfelt calls thanking us! What a great feeling they give us, and Qlarant helps make it all possible!”
Please join me next month for Chapter 3 of Success Stories where we’ll learn about the Mission of Mercy. This organization’s objective is to restore dignity to the sick, poor, and homeless by providing free medical, dental and pharmaceutical services and by acting as an instrument of “Healing through Love.”