Partnership Providing Hope by Neelam Vohra

The Nationalities Service Center (NSC) began a partnership with Penn Dental Medicine in July of 2019. The partnership has allowed NSC clients to obtain the oftentimes inaccessible and expensive dental treatment they may need without any worry about cost. That is, even clients who are uninsured, who have insurance but their treatment may be expensive, or those who may not have documentation that might be needed elsewhere, are able to get treatment they need without any reservations.

I began my service term with National Health Corps Philadelphia at the Nationalities Service Center in August and quickly began developing the new partnership with Penn Dental Medicine. There were challenges along the way--a learning curve and necessary problem shooting that is still ongoing. However, there have been so many stories along the way of how partnerships such as this one, in which both sides have only the best for those they serve in mind, can bring joy, confidence, calmness to those in our community who may not otherwise find it in a dentist’s office.

As things with the current public health pandemic, COVID-19 continues to complicate daily life for all of us, it’s been inspiring to see the ways in which both my host site, the Nationalities Service Center, and Penn Dental Medicine have continued to partner to ensure our mutual clients get the care that they need. Though most dentists offices, including Penn Dental Medicine, are closed to regular appointments, those who need emergency care are still able to speak and see a doctor.

In early March, just before things began to change to abide by stay-at-home orders, I connected a client with dental care at Penn. He was excited at the prospect of receiving his treatment for free, as his previous provider had estimated hundreds, even with his insurance. As we scheduled a specialist visit at the School for the middle of March, things began to close and his appointment had to be cancelled. Weeks passed and he reached out, complaining of intense tooth pain in the teeth that were meant to be treated not long ago. I made one quick call to the School and within a half an hour, an on-call dentist reached out to the client and then scheduled his treatment for the following day. I was grateful that I was able to immediately reassure him that despite the pandemic, a provider would speak to him about his pain and would work with him to make sure he received any necessary treatment. I reached out to the client the following day to ensure all went smoothly and he assured me that it did and thanked me for always doing my best for him and his family.

In the midst of this pandemic, when I know I am unable to connect so many of NSC’s clients to the care they should normally receive, helping to continue this partnership with Penn Dental Medicine has provided little sprouts of hope that I find essential during these uncertain times.


Preview Image Description: NHC Philly member and author of this blog, Neelam Vohra, sits outside laughing
Body Image Description 1: Nationalities Services Center Logo
Body Image Description 2: Penn Dental Logo