This article originally ran in the Winter 2019 issue of IMPACT Newsmagazine.
“There are people that lean towards taking care of the elderly, or they enjoy taking care of children. My passion has always been the handicapped,” said Nancy Jones, DDSD specialist for the Dental Depot Central OKC office.
DDSD, or the Developmental Disability Services Division, is a state program that provides adults with developmental disabilities on Soonercare with up to $1000 in treatment each year to maintain their oral health.
“There are very few dentist offices that are actually certified for DDSD,” Nancy revealed. “Dr. Glenn [Ashmore] and his son, Dr. Casey [Ashmore], started this probably 10 years ago.”
Today, every single dentist at our Central OKC office is certified, making the entire staff accessible to patients who desperately need their services. For these patients and their caregivers, though, setting up an appointment can be a tedious task and that’s where Nancy comes in.
In fact, Nancy is a caregiver’s best friend. She patiently sorts through the dozens of forms and red tape required for each patient at multiple stages of their treatment, for no fewer than 250 patients and their caregivers each year.
“We start out with a cleaning and do an overall review of the mouth,” Nancy said. “After the first cleaning, if they need treatment, then we start the process all over again. It’s the circle of life.”
Nancy isn’t the only one who enjoys spending time with the DDSD patients. Several of the doctors and dental assistants at the office really look forward to their time with the patients.
“Dr. Omar and Dr. Sebourn have the majority of [the patients], and their teams really know how to handle them and be gentle with them,” Nancy said. “We try to make it fun. Most of [the patients] enjoy it, it’s sort of like a field trip for them to come here.”
Interacting with the patients and their families is what Nancy says she finds the most rewarding. In fact, Nancy has been in her position for the last four years because she enjoys it so much.
“I have a brother-in-law who was a DDSD patient. We saw the struggles [he] went through and I’ve always had a passion for the mentally challenged,” Nancy said. “I asked Shauna [McCurdy] to teach me how to do this … when she got promoted, I asked them to give it to me.”
Because of Nancy’s dedication to the program and the full cooperation of the entire Central OKC staff, DDSD patients from all over the state come to our Central OKC office for treatment. They drive from as far away as Stillwater, Enid, Lawton and Tecumseh.
“I couldn’t do what I do without [the team],” Nancy said. “They really go the extra mile. It’s a huge team effort.”
Everyone gets in on giving back, including office manager Brian Ward, who tells his team to do whatever it takes to make it a positive experience for the patients.
“Brian was having a meeting with a representative when a [DDSD patient] came along. He patted the rep on the head and then patted Brian right square on the bottom and just kept walking,” Nancy said with a laugh. “Word traveled fast around the office about it.”
There are lessons to be learned from these patients, said Nancy, who attends functions with the patients outside of work such as talent shows and holiday parties hosted at community centers.
“When I left that talent show, I thought to myself that I wished we could learn from these folks. If they made a goofy move or they laughed, nobody was judging,” Nancy said. “Everybody was rooting for each other. I thought that if everybody could do that, we’d all be better off.”