Letters and comments for April 18, 2012

By Observer Upload April 18, 2012 01:14 pm
Letters and comments for April 18, 2012

Dental care needed


To the Editor:

If you see someone drowning, will you just walk off or stop to save them? You might throw out a rope. You might jump in and swim to the victim if you are strong and trained in lifesaving. 

Severe dental decay can kill as surely as deep water. It just takes longer.

I got a call from a Spanish-speaking friend who had tried to find a dentist for a new arrival to our valley. The young woman had an abscessed molar but the dentists we can afford had no openings for one or two months. I offered to call dentists in Baker City ( I was throwing out the rope).

After several calls, I found one to see her that afternoon, who also had the lowest cost. 

When I called my friend back, I found out I would have to be the one to provide a ride and bilingual interpreting. I took a deep breath because I was jumping into that water.

I drove from Cove to La Grande to Baker City; spent many hours at the dentist and pharmacy; watched the young woman take that first life-saving dose of antibiotics; and drove back. She offered to pay me and I accepted $20 for gas.

When I got home, it had been seven hours since I first got the call to help. I am a single mom who recently lost my job.

My dear dentist tells me he goes to countries where “people still die from untreated dental decay.”

He is always fair with us.

But here in the U.S., the same is true. Universal dental care would prevent untold loss of health and productivity.

I tell my friends over and over, “Go to the dentist every year. It costs less in the long run.”

But the language barrier and lack of reasonably priced dentistry keeps them away.

Receptionists are rarely bilingual. Interpreters are not paid by health providers. We make appointments and serve for little or no compensation.

The workers are the backbone of this valley’s agricultural economy. Is something wrong with this picture?

Mary Cooke