Above and beyond

Colgate Awards 2021

The Colgate Caring Dentist and Dental Team Awards returned in November with fantastic stories of dentists who went the extra mile for their patients in a time of national crisis.

“This has been an era-defining period. A global pandemic, which no one saw coming, and which stretched us in ways we wouldn’t have imagined. There have been heart-breaking and heart-warming moments, and some of those heart-warming moments are being celebrated here tonight.”

In her speech at the Colgate Caring Dentist and Dental Team Awards, IDA President Dr Clodagh McAllister summed up an extraordinary period in all our lives.

The Awards returned in November to Dublin’s InterContinental Hotel after a Covid-enforced hiatus, and the impact of the pandemic was clear in the nature of the nominations, and in the responses of dentists and dental teams to their patients’ anxieties and needs.

Dr McAllister acknowledged the many loved ones lost during the pandemic, and how fortunate those present were to be together and celebrating after such an extraordinary and at times terrible period. She also acknowledged the contribution of dentists and dental teams to the fight against Covid-19, praising the many dental professionals who were redeployed to vaccination and contact tracing, and the many more who volunteered their time so as to release other healthcare staff to frontline services.

Dr McAllister thanked this year’s judges, Chairman of the judging panel Dr Barry Harrington, and Drs Seton Menton, Frances O’Callaghan and Divya Sweeney, for their work in sifting through the many patient nominations to choose this year’s winners. In their comments, the judges drew attention to the fact that any dental examination or treatment requires that the patient has complete and unreserved confidence in their dentist, a confidence that must be earned by the profession. This year’s nominations included numerous examples of dentists who earned that trust with kindness and empathy, in a clean and safe environment.

The Awards could not take place, of course, without the support of Colgate, who were represented on the night by a team led by Jonathan White and Stephanie Gribben.

Colgate Caring Dentist of the Year

Overall winner
Dr Colm O’Loghlen
Colgate Awards Overall Winner Colm O'LoghlenA 15-year-old boy was climbing a wall and unexpectedly fell off it face first. He arrived home to his mother with his two front teeth in his hand and having swallowed another tooth. He was very badly cut and bruised, and was traumatised. His mother put the two teeth in a container and drove immediately to the hospital in Tralee where they live. It was a Saturday evening and there was no dentist available in the hospital to treat the boy. Now herself in a state of panic as the boy had already completed a full orthodontic treatment, the mother put out a call on social media for any dentist that might be able to help. By this time it was 9.30pm on a Saturday evening. Dr Colm O’Loghlen responded and told the mother and her son to meet him at his surgery. He managed, despite the stitches in the boy’s lips and the significant swelling on his face, to replace the two front teeth successfully, and no further treatment has been required since.

The judges’ citation is:
For his clinical skills provided to a traumatised teenager at an out-of-hours emergency, Dr Colm O’Loghlen is the national winner of the Colgate Caring Dentist of the Year Award.

Connacht/Ulster winner
Dr Bernadette Fee
Colgate Awards 2021 Connacht/Ulster Winner Bernadette FeeOn the evening of her husband’s birthday, Dr Bernadette Fee got a call from a woman who lived locally but who was not a regular patient of Dr Fee’s practice. The woman had been out cycling, hit a stone and was thrown off the bicycle head first, landing on her face and causing her front teeth to be, as she described it: “knocked horizontal”. Dr Fee arranged for the woman to come to her practice immediately, where she treated her cuts and bruises as well as providing emergency treatment for her teeth, which required an x-ray. The woman was very grateful for her treatment: in an emergency, out of hours, and not being an existing patient, she was treated with great gentleness as well as clinical skill.

The judges’ citation is:
For that dedication, Dr Bernadette Fee is the Connacht/Ulster Region winner of the Colgate Caring Dentist of the Year Award.

Dublin winner
Dr Irene Lavin
Colgate Awards 2021 Dublin Winner Irene LavinAn 86-year-old man had an extraction carried out by Dr Irene Lavin at her surgery in Dublin and returned home as normal. However, that afternoon post-extraction bleeding became excessive. With the patient having contacted the surgery, Dr Lavin drove to his home, which was a good distance away, assessed him and then drove him herself to the Mater Hospital to ensure that he received the care he needed in a hospital setting. Unfortunately, having been seen and then discharged from the Mater Hospital, the problem re-emerged the following day. Despite being on leave, Dr Lavin responded immediately to the family and arranged for him to be seen that day at the Dublin Dental University Hospital, where the issue was treated and resolved. Dr Lavin was nominated by the patient’s daughter who, being familiar with the medical world, was impressed by the outstanding personal care provided to her father.

The judges’ citation is:
For her exceptional determination to ensure that her patient received the care needed when an unanticipated problem arose, Dr Irene Lavin is the Dublin Region winner of the Colgate Caring Dentist of the Year Award.

Rest of Leinster winner
Dr Lisa Lucey
Colgate Awards 2021 Leinster Winner Lisa LuceyIn the early weeks of the first pandemic lockdown, our nominator received a call on her mobile from a number she did not immediately recognise. It was her family dentist, Dr Lisa Lucey, calling to offer any assistance she could to the woman’s two daughters, who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Dr Lucey was going through her list of patients to identify anyone who might be especially challenged or vulnerable to the threat of Covid-19. She was then calling them to offer the family anything that she might be able to help with, such as masks and hand gels. She also offered to help with supplies of emergency oxygen for the two patients if that was needed. The mother nominated Dr Lucey for going well beyond what was needed or expected of a family dentist, and for proving that in a time of acute threat to vulnerable patients, she could provide support that would be vital to the well-being of her patients.

The judges’ citation is:
For her exceptional dedication to the well-being of her patients in a time of crisis, Dr Lisa Lucey is the Rest of Leinster Region winner of the Colgate Caring Dentist of the Year Award.

Special Award
Dr Fionn Murphy
The judges wished to make a special award to a dentist who has improved the quality of life of a 34-year-old man with special needs. The mother of this man nominated Dr Fionn Murphy for agreeing to provide the man with a set of dentures, despite the patient having seen several dentists in previous years who would not consider providing him with dentures. In doing so, Dr Murphy made this patient feel special and, by giving him a set of dentures, has ensured that the man looks well, which, according to the patient’s mother, has had a significantly beneficial effect on his well-being when he goes out.

The judges’ citation is:
For his dedication to caring for the needs of a patient in a way that significantly improved their quality of life, Dr Fionn Murphy is the winner of a Special Recognition Award in the Colgate Caring Dentist of the Year Awards.

Caring dental team award winners
Ballina Dental Practice
Colgate Awards 2021 Team Winner BallinaIn Mayo, a dentist was called out twice over a relatively short space of time to deal with dental sports injuries – a girl with no mouthguard, and a boy with a shop-bought mouthguard who had both had teeth knocked out. Dr Paul Dunne and his team at Ballina Dental Practice then did something remarkable. They offered to provide a properly fitted dental mouthguard to every senior male and female player in Knockmore GAA Club – at no cost to the players or the Club. To achieve this the staff, who normally don’t work on Friday afternoons, worked two Friday afternoons, taking impressions from three players every 15 minutes with fully staggered and Covid-19-compliant appointments. Over the two Fridays, 80 impressions were taken, and in the following weeks, all 80 players received their individually fitted mouth guard.

The judges’ citation is:
For their commitment to the team players, to the Club members, and to their community, and for their work to help prevent serious dental injuries on the sports field, the team at Ballina Dental Practice is this year’s winner of the Colgate Caring Dental Team of the Year Award.

Caring dentist award winners
The Colgate Caring Dentist Awards are the only awards where patients nominate their dentist for outstanding care. Here are this year’s nominees and winners.