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Patient Testimonial

The following are excerpts from an open letter written by Lori Pollard, a mother of an adult son with autism who received dental surgery at Mount Sinai’s Dentistry Clinic for Persons with Special Needs. The letter was originally posted on Facebook March 10, 2014.

Dear Mt Sinai Hospital Administration,

The whole team at Mt Sinai dental clinic (and day surgery), under the leadership of Dr. Sigal (because that's what he does, he leads by example), the entire time, treated my adult son with moderate to severe autism and global delay, who, let's face it, is often loud and violent, they treated my son like a PERSON, not like a problem, not LESS.

They never acted "afraid" of my baby. Not once. Not only did they behave as if my son was a person, but they behaved as if he was a person they LIKED! They didn't ignore Eric, or "deal" with him, or "put up" with him, and they didn't act like he was a problem. They directed their questions and comments to me only when need be, but would reach out and hold Eric's hand when they did, or rub his neck, or muss his hair. So even when it was obvious he couldn't direct his own care, they still made sure he knew in some way this was all about taking care of HIM, CARE being the main word...

The team under Dr. Sigal should be the model for all front line workers in any field! They are all that's RIGHT, with nothing that is WRONG.

To the nurses who read over and over "eric shoppers drug mart, permanent markers," and each time were truly, yes truly, delighted to be interacting with my baby boy, my monkey.

To the anesthesiologist who gave me an extra mask to "play" with Eric, and discussed the ways to help Eric go under in the least traumatic way, even vetoing my suggestion, but not because he was "better" than me, but because he had a way that would be easier for my baby. He cared.

To the burly security guards who stayed hidden, because Eric is scared of uniforms, but were there to help lift my 200lb, now sleeping baby, out of his wheelchair onto the operating bed.

To the young man in admitting who didn't even bat an eye at me saying I can't wheel my son's wheelchair in here, he will have a meltdown, can you call out into the hall when you need me to sign.

To the people at information who took one look at sleep deprived and worried-mama-bear me and knew I needed more guidance than just a set of directions, but whom never made me feel incompetent or a burden.

To the doctors walking out of the parking lot who turned around to come back and assist me getting IN to the parking lot (it's confusing at 5am!)

To the fabulous A-Type personality administration who keep things in such perfect order, a God-send for those of us living a very chaotic life, and the most integral cog in the mechanism (she deserves a raise- no matter how much she makes already!)

To Dr. Sigal and Dr. Lee who cared for my son and helped ease his oral pain, and Dr Lee, thank you for knowing WHEN to stop talking so I could hold my son's hand, and when to resume, and for simply speaking with a smile in your voice and your heart- that alone is something so important, but something that is innate, and cannot be taught.

And finally…

To the nurse who walked into the wait room, with a huge smile, to tell me, Eric is calling "Mommy, Mommy" and GOT how BIG that is.

In that waiting room, where I had been so nervous, I suddenly felt PROUD!

None of those people knew how many long years I had waited to hear my son say Mommy.  But this nurse did.  And she knew how important it was for me to know my son wanted ME.

To all of you, on behalf of every person who loves and cares for a person with special needs, thank you, for in a few short hours, you took something that could be pervasively traumatic and whipped it around to show all that is good with humanity.

But that's not all.

I watched you do it with others. Other Mom's with their babies. Other Moms just as worried and harried as I, other adults with complex and, yes, challenging needs. We ALL were treated as if we MATTERED!