Reminder: People Are Still Helping Those In Need During Pandemic

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There are plenty of kids who are scared of the dentist. But for one immunocompromised Chelsea girl, a team of dentists got together to go the extra mile to provide the emotional and medical help she needed to fix her broken tooth, in a month long process that her mother, Jayme Fralick, told the Sun Times News that she is very grateful for.

The problem that Jayme and her daughter Lilliana Moore, or Lili, faced was finding a practice where Fralick could be with her when the procedure was done. Lili has a history of acute medical needs, including a liver transplant surgery that was completed when she was just 21 months old. This meant that the blonde seven year old with the Cheshire cat-like smile was acutely vulnerable to the Coronavirus pandemic that we are still working our way out of.

“Lili and I have bonded obviously since she was a baby and we have been through every hospitalization and every procedure together. For her mental health and emotional health, I needed to be there,” in the room, Fralick said.

Lili’s new problem came about last summer, when she fell on the sidewalk while she was playing and chipped her tooth. The Fralick’s were referred to Dr. Julie Freeman, who provided some initial care and monitored her situation through a series of meetings until Fralick had to take Lili to the ER on March 5, when her lip became infected and it became clear that a root canal was necessary.

The initial cleaning and prep work was done by Dr. Julie Freeman, from the Dexter Pediatric Dentistry. She was later helped by Dr. Darya Dabiri – a pediatric dentist and endodontist – who helped train Freeman at the U of M’s Dental College, and keeps in touch with her former students.

“In pediatric dentistry we do a lot of tell, show, do. It is a lot of talking,” Freeman said. By taking a longer time to explain exactly what is going to be done before it is done, Freeman said it is possible to circumvent anxiety and provide a better experience for the patient. “What Lili needed was to have a little extra time to let her know that she’s in a safe place and we’re just here to help.”

What makes dentistry potentially more dangerous for an immunocompromised person is the aerosol that is created when the dentist goes to work. If anyone getting dental work done has coronavirus, they would obviously be more likely to spread it, regardless if they were symptomatic, meaning that Lili needed to be seen in a private office when no one else was around but her, the dentists and her mother.

“Regardless of whether there is a pandemic, diseases still happen. Kids still fall, they still break a tooth, they still get infections,” Dabiri said. Those patients still need to be helped despite “how nerve wracking” the extra dangers of the coronavirus add to the situation.

They needed a clean space that was free of people, to minimize the possible exposure to Lili, so after a bit of searching they found an Endodontist in Dexter, named Matthew Healy. With Healy’s office and equipment, and Freeman and Dabiri’s experience, they were all ready to go; and Lili’s mother was able to sit in the office with them, wearing a mask, holding her daughter’s hand as they fixed the tooth.

He let them into his office on a Saturday, so they were the only ones there. Once the location was secured, Lili had to be prepared for the operation and they had to get her over the precautions that were necessary during the pandemic, which included a double layering of goggles and masks.

“We look like astronauts,” Dabiri said.

The amount of care and sensitivity the dentists allowed for Lili as they helped her is what impressed Fralick. A nurse herself, Fralick said that the kind of attention to the emotional health they provided for Lili was “not something you find in a lot of other [healthcare] providers.”

This allowed Fralick to be in the room when the root canal was done, which would not have been possible with Lili’s understandable anxiety about the procedure. Especially with all of the precautions that had to be done to protect Lili from the coronavirus.

“For these people to get together and figure it out was just phenomenal to me,” Fralick said.

Photo Credit: Jayme Fralick. Photo is of Fralick and her daughter Lili. 

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