Last year in November, in just one day, Dr. Cedric Chenet donated over $13,000 in volunteer dentistry to people in need who live in Brevard. This past September, Dr. Chenet matched last year’s donation.
In memory of his brother, Burton Chenet, an artist who was murdered in Haiti, Dr. Chenet and his staff dedicate the day of giving to his brother.
Patients who are referred to Dr. Chenet through the Space Coast Volunteers in Medicine, receive treatments like cleanings, fillings, extractions and nonsurgical periodontal treatments. Space Coast Volunteers in Medicine (SCVIM) is an organization that provides free medical and dental care to the uninsured of Brevard County. In order to receive services, applicants must meet several eligibility requirements.
Patients have already been screened (and likely placed on a two-year waiting list) by Space Coast Volunteers in Medicine before seeing Dr. Chenet. This practice streamlines the process allowing Dr. Chenet and his staff to be more productive. Exams and x-rays have already been done and a plan of treatment is recommended. By working with the established organization he sees the people who have been waiting the longest.
“It is great,” said Irene Theriault, director of the dental clinic for Space Coast Volunteers in Medicine. “We can treat so many more patients.”
Dr. Chenet began working with SCVIM as a volunteer in its Palm Bay clinic and realized he could serve more people in his own office with his staff, who all volunteer their time as well.
“Giving should be natural, Dr. Chenet said. “There should be no strings attached.”
Hope Sierra began receiving dental services from SCVIM about two years ago. Before that, she hadn’t been to the dentist in years. She was immediately impressed by the doctors and dentists’ care and professionalism. So much so that she referred her adult daughter to the organization as well.
Another patient, who requested that her name not be used, started receiving dental services about 2 years ago and was seeing Dr. Chenet for the first time for cavity fillings. Her husband is self-employed and can’t afford insurance.
“Seeing a doctor or dentist should not be a luxury,” she said. “I view getting a filling the same as someone getting their hair done.”
Dr. Chenet hopes that his day of service will inspire more professionals to become involved and support SCVIM.
“I hope to have more of the dental community involved,” Dr. Chenet said. Including other dentists, dental labs and oral surgeons who can all decrease the backlog of patients waiting for care.
“Are you successful because you give a lot or do you give a lot because you’re successful?” Dr. Chenet wondered. He admits he doesn’t know the answer but he understands that he has to give in order to receive.
“My father had a saying, ‘you only see the fleas on the skinny dog,’” Dr. Chenet said. While he understands the desire to help others outside the country where the need is obvious, he realizes how much is necessary in our own backyard too.