Building A Nationwide Dental Aid Program
|Dr Shmuel Katz with a volunteer "first patient" at the new clinic in Rechovot|
This is a fine example of taking a good idea, building it once, proving it, and then running with it.
Some 13 years ago, I asked Dr Shmuel Katz (who gives a shiur I attend) whether he'd be interested to establish and run a free dental clinic at Lema'an Achai.
I explained that for impoverished families, who were often unable to even put food on the table for their families, dental care was an unaffordable luxury item. Families could literally go generations without receiving adequate dental care.
Dr Katz enthusiastically agreed to head up the new program. He assembed a group of dedictated volunteer dentists and the program initially ran out of existing private dental clinics in the neighbourhood.
Lema'an Achai applied for and received a generous grant to set up our own dental facility, in the Lema'an Achai Center on Nahal Lachish, Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Today, the Lema'an Achai free dental clinic offers the best professional level care and broadest range of treatment options of any private clinic in the city.
Buoyed with the success of the Ramat Beit Shemesh program, Dr Katz identified a donor who bought into the dream, and sponsored a second Lema'an Achai free dental clinic which was located in the old marketplace of Beit Shemesh. This was subsequently moved into U'Veneh's facility, who now host the program.
Today, Dr Katz's network of free dental clinics consists of Rechovot, Kireat Sefer, Elad, Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh, in each case teamed with a local chesed organization.
The opening ceremony of the new clinic was attended by local dignatories, including Rabbi Kook, Chief Rabbi of Rechovot.
Rabbi Kook's explained that one is permitted to break shabbos for dental problems and this illustrates that dentistry is "pikuach nefesh", saving lives.
Over the years, the dental program has treated literally thousands of patients from poor families, who would otherwise not have been treated, intead suffering pain, infection and danger.
Kol Hakavod to Dr Shmuel Katz, his generous sponsors and teaming partners, on this amazing acievement.
I am proud to have had a formative role in Shmuel's fantastic chesed enterprise!
|Dr Katz (rt) next to Rabbi Kook, Chief Rabbi of Rechovot|