National Health Centers Week August 7-13
Atascosa Health Center Inc. invites you to join them in celebrating National Health Center Week, August 7-13. The week-long celebration raises awareness of the mission and accomplishments of American health centers over the past five decades.
As part of National Health Centers Week, AHC is spotlighting Dental Director Dr. Kicha Caldeira Irish and his dental team.
AHC provides primary dental care such as routine fillings, exams and cleanings, as well as prosthodontic work such as crowns, bridges, partials and dentures. The dental team also offers root canal treatments and surgical extractions.
Dr. Irish reminds everyone that a healthy mouth is more than a pleasant smile. There is a strong connection between the mouth and a person’s overall health. Good oral health is important at any age and is essential for overall health.
Dr Irish spoke about the fears behind dentistry – the cost and the potential pain – that keep people from making regular dental appointments. She said the AHC offers variable fees to patients to make them as affordable as possible for those with and without insurance. AHC welcomes all patients, regardless of income or insurance status.
“Being able to offer the community access to these types of treatments, at a cost that is a little more accessible to them, is what we do at the Atascosa Health Center,” said Dr. Irish.
As someone who has treated many patients who have lost their teeth after years of neglect and lack of access to care, Dr. Irish finds it rewarding to get them back to better health.
“I am always amazed at this appointment, where I put the prostheses back on and the patients smile. They say, ‘Can you take a picture?’ and they tell you, ‘I haven’t smiled in years.’ Yes, sometimes we relieve patients of pain, but I think usually making someone smile again is one of those things that really gets to me,” said Dr Irish.
She advises those who fear dental visits to try AHC. When a patient comes in regularly, twice a year as they are supposed to, problems can often be treated early before they get worse.
“We are here to help you,” added Dr Irish. We’re not here to hurt, and dentistry has come a long way. The experiences that people had 20 or 30 years ago are not what we offer. We’ve got better ways to numb, pamper, and relax now.
With the help of Clinic Director Leslie Davila, Dr. Irish not only manages the day-to-day running of the clinic, but also the treatment of patients. As Dental Director, she ensures they are within reach of the organization while caring for the population they serve.
In addition to Dr. Irish, who works primarily at their Floresville location, the dental team includes Dr. Wade Phelps in Karnes City and Dr. Miche Richards and Dr. John Beene, both in Pleasanton.
Comprehensive care is essential at AHC. Dental staff work hand in hand with medical staff and behavioral health staff forming an internal referral network.
For example, if a patient shows up for a doctor’s appointment with a sore throat, that provider may notice that they need dental care. The provider can share information about the AHC dental service and can make this phone call for them.
“It’s the same thing in dentistry. We will sometimes see patients who come in for a toothache and because we take their blood pressure at every appointment we have caught patients with high blood pressure,” said Dr Irish. “They didn’t know because they don’t submit to regular checkups.”
AHC also sees many patients with diabetes, which is closely linked to periodontal disease, a disease of the bones and gums.
“We are asking our medical community and our medical staff to book these appointments, these patients at risk of dental issues, and bring them to us so that we can take care of them,” said Dr Irish. .
Dr Irish was born on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. At 16, she moved to the United States. She attended New York University College of Dentistry, graduating in 2005. She lived in Iowa and then Nebraska before moving to Texas and also worked on a reservation in the Midwest.
While she was a pre-med student, she started researching what specialty she wanted to go into. As someone who knew she wanted a family, the many hours of on-call doctors didn’t seem appealing. So she spent time with her dentist, watching her work, and decided that dental school might be a good choice.
“So I went to dental school, and it turns out that’s actually a better career for me because I do a lot of pro bono work too,” Dr Irish said. “Dentistry is mostly a need because a lot of people don’t have access to it. So I can travel a lot.
Two of the organizations she has worked for are Pathways to Health and Freedom Clinic. She has traveled to places like Haiti, Guatemala and the United States, providing free dental services.
Dr. Irish runs a free clinic from his church in San Antonio, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ephesus, twice a month.
She and her husband, Everard
Irish, are blessed with three children: Michael, 18, who will attend college in Alabama; Ethan, 15 and Isabela, 12. In his spare time, Dr. Irish enjoys travelling, reading, making T-shirts and spending time with his family.
Dr. Irish values the relationships she builds with her patients. She encourages the community to call her excellent dental department.
Atascosa Health Center Inc. has three dental clinics: one at their Pleasanton location at 310 W. Oaklawn, one in Floresville, and one in Karnes City. AHC offers dental appointments Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make an appointment, call 830-569-2527.