Who Ever Heard of a Dentist Making House Calls??
The Alisa Kauffman Story:
Ingenuity for the Helpless
Her name is Alisa Kauffman, D.M.D. and she provides life-saving services to the geriatric, or shut-in, segment of our fast-paced society.
Alisa is a dentist whose practice is strictly restricted to serving the homebound.
“I think that helping those who cannot otherwise get help has been the best part of my job,” Dr. Kauffman said rather emphatically over the phone one Saturday morning.
Alisa decided to become a dentist to combine science with her love of art. “Dentistry requires a good eye and great hands,” she said. And after having already decided to pursue dentistry, Alisa realized she loved making dentures and was good at it. She found it so gratifying to be able to give back dignity and to improve people’s quality of life just by providing dentures to those with no teeth. Her love of denture making dated back to her University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine days in the early 1980s.
But then, the idea of making dental house calls came after one personal episode in her own life.
Alisa’s best friend’s, Beth Wilf’s, father had just suffered a stroke. Mr. Wilf, a good friend to Alisa and her family, was a man who had been very devoted to the care and maintenance of his teeth was now finding it nearly impossible to leave his apartment. At that moment, Alisa offered to make a house call to him. Dr. Alisa Kauffman, who was both running a thriving Upper West Side practice at that time in 1990 and seeing to patients in nursing homes, decided right then to “build this little niche one referral at a time.” She decided early on that she could turn this “house call dentistry” into “a service…only for those elderly who [could not] leave [their homes] due to physical and/or mental issues.”
Dr. Kauffman did NOT want her practice being a “fancy concierge service for all.”
Using several stories as examples of how prospective patients attempted to buck the system and merely “order” her in-home dentistry, Dr. Kauffman kept insisting,
“My service is strictly for the homebound.”
Today with the radical improvements made in both medicine and technology, we are living in an age when people are living longer than ever, and it should continue to be this way for generations to come. According to researchers at the University of Southern California (https://gero.usc.edu/2019/06/27/g-20-summit-puts-aging-on-the-agenda/), the number of people across the globe living to their 80s, and beyond, is projected to reach 434 million by 2050. As this is the case for a large segment of the world’s population, there exists a need for suitable survival amenities for the later years of life.
That is why greater numbers of dentists who make house calls will be needed in the future.
Dr. Alisa Kauffman is the pioneer who started this type of practice.
Future dentists will be required to continue it.
Facts provided by the New York State Coalition of the Alzheimer’s Association reveal that there are currently 400,000 New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s disease. More than five million Americans are presently living with Alzheimer’s and by 2050, it’s estimated that there will be as many as 16 million American’s living with Alzheimer’s. Because people are living longer than ever now, diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia are much more prevalent.
In response to this fact Dr. Kauffman asks the question, “Considering 75% of my patients have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, don’t you think there should be more geriatric ‘house call dentists’?”
And the sane answer to this question is YES, THERE SHOULD BE.
So, I then asked her, “Why aren’t there more dentists doing this kind of ‘house call dentistry?’”
And Dr. Kauffman answered,
“Lots of people could do my job. They just DO NOT KNOW it can exist!!”
Well, after they read this, perhaps they’ll know it can exist, and needs to exist?
And they probably don’t know this either…BUT THEY SHOULD.
Dr. Kauffman developed a patent for a toothbrush to solve the oral care issue for those who cannot operate or brush for themselves. She’s already shown off this new technology in lectures to companies, like Colgate-Palmolive. This invention piqued much interest. Now she’s working on investors to really make it happen.
Alisa is the expert in this field of geriatric dentistry, which she began focusing in on 30 years ago.
And today with her 60thbirthday looming in December, Dr. Kauffman wholeheartedly promises,
“I will continue until I make this mark for humanity!”
Dr. Kauffman’s Condensed Résumé
Dr. Alisa Kauffman received her undergraduate training at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in Biology in 1981. She then graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine with a D.M.D. Degree in 1985.
In 1995, Dr. Kauffman made the focus of her practice Geriatrics, and is currently the Director of Geriatric Dental Care at two local nursing homes. She started the Dental LIFE program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing during her 10-year tenure as Clinical Director of the Faculty Practices at UPenn. She continues to frequently lecture on Geriatric Dentistry worldwide.
Hospitals regularly depend on Dr. Kauffman to replace all lost, or damaged, dentures in a timely manner. And through her own practice, as has been said, Dr. Kauffman is experienced in handling patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and all forms of Dementia.
Dr. Alisa Kauffman knows and practices personal in-home dentistry, herself. Normally traveling solo, Alisa is welcomed into each of her patient’s homes by the aide, or family member, of said housebound patient, and shown her way to the room in which she’ll be working.
Dr. Kauffman explains, “…It is super cool to work in a different environment every hour on the hour. [I’ve seen] the living conditions of the elderly from the super rich to the hoarders to a house just treated for bed bugs,” and the whole time, Alisa is faced with the same conundrum, “Where do I put my sterile instruments?”
Despite being forced into these precarious living situations with patients, Dr. Kauffman has come upon several tried and true remedies that help to ameliorate any threatening sanitation situations. In regards to a house recently treated for bed bugs, for instance, she now knows to “always bring large Heftytrash bags to put in [her] suitcase just in case, and to always sit on paper towels [when] on anyone’s bed.”
When speaking with Dr. Kauffman over the phone I could hear the passion this wife and mother has for her job, and the compassion she has for her patients, as she stated, “…taking a proficient risk outweighs the lack of treatment and having to see that patient suffer.
The reward outweighs the risk!”
For more info about Dr. Kauffman, please visit geriatrichousecalldentistry.com