A few years ago, some of the members of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island sat down with the then Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary School. They asked her what was the most important thing they could do to help support increased student achievement, and they were surprised by her answer. She said that she had some students with serious (and painful) dental issues.
The Kiwanis Club members went through a lengthy process with Collier County Public Schools, and in the end identified an agreed upon way to let the parents of students from families with low incomes know that there was help. Kiwanis solicited pro bono support from local dentists, and some stepped up. Dr. Rick Siegel examined a four-year-old with extremely infected teeth, and shared that the child may need hospital-based sedation, which turned out to be true.
The Kiwanians then turned to the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, whose staff worked very cooperatively with Club members in securing the needed services for this young child. Issues like medical privacy and payment plans had to be worked out, and they were. Eventually, at Physicians Regional Hospital, the child was sedated and all of her upper teeth were removed, thereby eliminating the very real potential of further extreme and dangerous infections.
More recently, prior to the close of school, a family from Tommie Barfield made contact with Kiwanians affiliated with this project, named Karing for Kids. The young man involved had serious decay issues, but not serious to the extent that they required hospital care. This time Dr. Andrew Derwin stepped up and agreed to provide services at no cost. He saw the child, who was in pain, the day Kiwanis contacted him, and completed three fillings that afternoon. The family has more appointments for this young man scheduled, who has even more fillings that need attention.
Recently John Coff and Dianna Dohm, both members of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island Board of Directors, stopped by to extend their appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Derwin for taking care of the needs of this young student so promptly. We know that about 40% of students at Tommie Barfield come from economically needy households, and we also know that there are local families living with financial challenges. It is only through the good works and deeds of Marco’s dentists that Kiwanians are able to offer even a ray of hope to those families unable to provide necessary oral care for their children.
And so, the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island salutes Dr. Andrew Derwin and his partner, Ann Derwin, for their service to the community and for their support of this Kiwanis initiative.
Services provided pro bono by local dentists do not require payment. However, more serious dental work, requiring advanced or hospital care, do require payment, even if at reduced rates. Costs for caring for the four-year-old were approximately $2,500. Anyone wishing to support Kiwanis’ work for children with serious dental needs can make a donation to the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, and mail it to PO Box 2041, Marco Island, FL 34146.