North Texas Dentistry Volume 9 Issue 4 2019 ISSUE 4 DE | Page 19

team talent Laureli Hattaway INDIAN CREEK DENTAL: A Deaf-friendly practice by Dr. Shad Hattaway he idea for our “Deaf-friendly” dental practice started when I was volunteering at Dental Health for Arlington, a non-profit dental clinic, and a Deaf patient showed up on our emergency appointment schedule. The patient was clearly in a lot of pain and his only way of communicating was through his wife, who was also Deaf. She spoke, but relied on lip reading to understand what anyone was saying. I predicted the upcoming obstacle of com- municating with her while my face mask was on. My girlfriend, Laureli (now my wife), is an American Sign Language interpreter and taught me a few phrases for when I went with her to Deaf events. I signed, “Hi, I am S-H-A-D. My fiancée is a sign language interpreter.” The patient lost his mind! He started signing at an unintelligible speed (for me) and started crying. I was thinking, ‘Oh no, the tooth is T hurting him so bad, he’s sobbing!’ How- ever, I realized these were tears of joy. I texted Laureli and she showed me how to sign “I only know a little sign language.” I have never learned a signed phrase so fast. We video interpreted the rest of the appointment with Laureli on FaceTime, and the patient was successfully treated. After that, Laureli and I discussed the intricacies of the Deaf community and their need for access to communication in healthcare settings. She informed me that people who have no exposure to the Deaf community assume that they can just write everything down. This is not always the case. For most Deaf people, English is their second language. Imagine reading complex medical treatment and diag- noses in your second language! How frus- trating and disempowering! That’s when we decided to combine our passions and make a Deaf-friendly dental practice. Laureli is our staff interpreter. When we have to utilize specialty care, Laureli will often go with the patient to their appoint- ment to make sure our message is accu- rately translated to the specialist. Laureli also provides our staff with monthly ASL/Deaf culture lessons so the staff feels comfortable conversing with and welcom- ing Deaf patients into our practice. Lau- reli has taken special interest in medical/dental interpretation and is the strongest advocate for our Deaf patients. She cares so deeply, and strives to make sure they get the same quality of care and education that a hearing patient would get. Our office also sponsors and partici- pates in the Deaf Celebration Expo of North Dallas. It’s important for us to be as visible as possible in the community, to let Deaf people know the service we offer. Indian Creek Dental is located in Carroll- ton. Visit | NORTH TEXAS DENTISTRY 19