Penobscot Community Health Care Celebrates Dental Assistant Recognition Week

The beginning of March is a special one for the PCHC Dental Center, as the organization and clinic observe Dentist Day, which was Sunday, March 6, and Dental Assistant Week, March 7-11. It’s perhaps by design that the two intertwined roles are so closely celebrated because they work in tandem when it comes to caring for our patients. That strong team chemistry is a common theme among our dental assistants, who spoke to PENPoints recently about their role and its place in the care team.

“The assistants are just the foundation layer of everything we do at the Dental Center,” said Michael Connors, D.A.  “In the operatories, there are signs that introduce patients to their care team. It lists dental assistants, then dental therapists, hygiene, and then your doctor.  We help keep things running smoothly.

When it comes to patient care, dental assistants are the first, last, and most consistent clinical touchpoints.  Their interaction with patients sets the tone for the visit and can help ease any anxiety or apprehension. Michaela Stewart, who started her journey as a DA on Monday as part of the clinic’s new on-the-job training program, recently served as a patient navigator and is looking forward to an increased role in building patient relationships.

“I’m excited to start working with the patients and go from just seeing them at the door to talking them down from being anxious, and being there every step of the way,” Stewart said.  “Just having a bigger role with the patient, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

 Jordan Beach, one of the team’s most experienced DAs, shared that making a difference in a patient’s life is what matters most to her.

“My favorite part is helping patients and that our care helps give them back their confidence and their smile,” Beach said. “It’s nice that we can just make the patient feel better and improve their day.”

Orthodontics dental assistant, Denise Johnston, goes above and beyond when it comes to building relationships with younger patients. When it’s time for braces to come off, it can be one of the most exciting times for our adolescent visitors, and Johnston makes sure that they know it’s just as exciting for the clinic.

“I deal with kids every day, and I do my best to make them feel comfortable. We laugh, we joke around, we get to know them. In ortho we see them every four to six weeks. So you get to watch them grow up,” Johnston said. “Here at PCHC we ring a cowbell any time we take braces off a child and they complete the treatment. So when we have them come back at their last appointment, and the doctor says, what do you think about getting your braces off, we go around the building and try to catch everybody who isn’t busy so they can join in, sing and have the patient ring the cowbell and celebrate.”

It’s those kinds of interactions that separate PCHC’s dental clinic and staff from just any other practice in the area. However, that kind of personality and tight-knit atmosphere doesn’t stop at patient care. The clinic is actively trying to make that the culture for staff as well. Those efforts are already evident to two new team members.

“I’ve had a really good impression so far,” Brooklyn Tompkins, said. “My first morning when I was trying to come in and the doors were locked, I noticed my coworkers come by and I was expecting them to just keep walking but they came over and introduced themselves and showed me where to go.  So there’s a nice culture being built so far.”

Abby Pelotte echoed those sentiments on her whirlwind first day.

“It just seems great so far. I’ve been introduced to everybody and I get the sense that it’s such a tight-knit group, with tons of laughs and smiles,” she said.

It’s clear that while the Dental Center has gone through a period of tremendous change and restructure, the reimagined and rebuilt culture is making an immediate difference.

PCHC wants to take a moment and thank ALL of our Dental Assistants for the passion and care you have in caring for the smiles of our community. We appreciate you all!