In the fall of 2019, a few months after her brother, Anthony, had died of a heart attack, Jennifer Baugh was driving from the Bronx to Rochester.
She was driving alone and she felt the need to make a phone call.
“I thought to myself, I don’t know if I can get on the phone with someone like this, this is going to take forever.
So I just called the dental office and said, ‘Can you take a look at my dentistry license and give me the number?’
And I said, I just don’t think I can,” she said.
“The receptionist came back and said I had to wait until the next day.
And I told her, I have a few things that I want to get done before then.
She said, you’ve got to be kidding me.
And she said, it’s a dentist’s license, not a family dentist’s.
And it was.”
That dentist’s name was the same one that had been used to register Jennifer Boulware and her family as dentists.
A year later, Jennifer was able to register as a dentist at the same Rochester dentist’s office that had operated in the Bronx.
The family was now able to receive the dental care they needed, but not the services they were accustomed to.
“We didn’t have access to what we needed to do as a family,” Jennifer said.
The Rochester family’s dental history and experience with the Bronx’s dentists has made the appointment with the Rochester family dentist a bit of a challenge.
Jennifer says that the dentist who was treating her at the dental offices in Rochester and the Bronx didn’t speak English.
She says that she was also told that the person at the dentist’s desk was not a dentist, but a dental assistant.
“She said, well, I know a dentist who can see you, so we’ll just have to call him and see if he can see us,” Jennifer explained.
“And she hung up the phone.
She didn’t say why.”
The next day, Jennifer called the office in Rochester, but the receptionist didn’t pick up the call.
When Jennifer called back, the dentist said she didn’t qualify.
“They said, the paperwork says you’re a family member, and you’re not a patient,” she recalled.
“So they told me, you can’t see anyone.”
Jennifer said that she wasn’t sure what to do next.
She called back to tell the receptionists that she had applied for a dental license at another dentist’s in Rochester.
“When I called them back, they said, we don’t accept patients.
We can’t register them.
And then the reception desk manager said, can we see you?”
Jennifer said she then called the Bronx office of the same dental office that operated in Rochester to ask if she could be seen for an appointment.
“Then I had an appointment with that person,” she explained.
But the dentist at that dental office told Jennifer that she would need to bring her own license, which she had lost a year before.
“He said, this isn’t our practice.
This is a business and we don,t want to have anybody coming in for an oral exam.”
The dentist told Jennifer to bring the license and her own personal identification, like her Social Security number, but she was not permitted to bring anything else with her, like a photo ID, or an insurance card.
“This is the second time that I have tried to get this information.
This time I just wanted to be able to do my work,” Jennifer added.
“It’s really difficult for us to get access to the people that are treating us,” she added.
The dental office in Brooklyn did not return multiple phone calls from The Daily Beast requesting comment on the family’s situation.
Jennifer and her husband, who works as a truck driver, have struggled to get appointments with dentists in Rochester as well.
Jennifer said they have had to drive hundreds of miles for appointments with dental assistants.
“To get a visit with someone in Rochester or Brooklyn, it takes a long time, and we’ve had to make multiple trips.
We have to take an hour to drive back and forth,” Jennifer told The Daily News.
“There’s no place in this city that you can get dental care.
And that’s what we’re really hoping to do.”
“We’re just going to keep working on it,” Jennifer concluded.
“Dental care is really important to our health.
And we have to keep doing what we are doing to make sure that we’re doing it the right way.”
A spokesperson for the Rochester office of The Bronx’s dental practice said in a statement that the office has “taken immediate action” to correct the problem.
“As a public health priority, The Bronx has long recognized the importance of providing a quality, safe, and accessible dental service for all residents, and has worked to ensure that the city’s public