More than six years ago, Jessie Ludden joined the CARE Clinic dental volunteer roster as an in-training dental assistant in preparation for her admittance to dental hygiene school that fall. She immediately proved herself to be dedicated, bright, a quick study and an inspiration because of her positive can-do attitude. At that time, the safety-net dental clinic was only open one evening a week for dental emergencies. As Jessie progressed in her education, she continued to volunteer there, often filling in at the last minute when other volunteers cancelled.
She soon began to feel the frustration that, under their limited dental model, there was no option for preventative or restorative care. Her graduation and certification coincided with a change in that model, transitioning to a four-days-a-week clinic, and accepting nominal payment or state insurances for preventative and restorative care.
The core staff at CARE Clinic included Jessie as hygienist and an advanced dental therapist. Jessie could have found employment that is much more lucrative in her chosen field, but she opted to work with this nonprofit dental care provider because of her commitment to dental health equity.
In her nomination submission, we were told, “We could not have made this transition without Jessie’s determination and loyalty. On many days in a sometimes-hectic workplace, Jessie was the peacemaker and positive influence that helped to keep things running smoothly. She provided continuity as we made the changes during a time when it felt like we were always trying to hit a moving target.”
During this transition, she continued to lobby for an emphasis on meeting the dental needs of all children and reaching out to them in their school environment. She is the linchpin for their school outreach program and believes that dental health is a life-long process and must begin as early as possible. She understands the financial and time constraint struggles of many parents and works always to ease those challenges for the benefit of children.
Reprinted from America's Tooth Fairy News