If you have ever had an abscessed tooth or cavity, you know the pain can
be debilitating. For the uninsured, the cost of dental treatment often
means learning to live with the pain and other problems linked to diseases
of the teeth, gums and mouth. Enter Joan Pino De Las Casas, DDS, dentist
and compassionate caregiver who is employed by Valley Health to provide
dental treatment to the region’s uninsured and low-income residents
(including those on Medicaid) at free clinics in Winchester and Woodstock.
“The extractions and root canals I perform at the clinic make a big
difference for many of those I see who have often neglected dental care,
frequently because of the cost,” notes “Dr. Pino,” as he is known to his patients.
Dr. Pino estimates that 60-70 percent of his patients make an appointment
to deal with a dental emergency, but sometimes he finds symptoms of more
serious medical problems requiring additional treatment, and even occasionally,
“I recently saw a patient who was having difficulty speaking, and
after a preliminary exam, I determined the man had a stroke and needed
immediate medical intervention.” In this situation, Dr. Pino’s quick response saved the patient’s
life—not just his tooth.
Dr. Pino received his dental degree in Peru, and then attended a three-year
residency program at the University of Connecticut. He was honored when
he was recruited by Valley Health, working with Pam Murphy, executive
director at the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic in Woodstock, to sponsor
his employment in the U.S. Now he and his family are happily settled in
the Shenandoah Valley.
“This is a great place to raise a family, and I get to do work that
makes a difference. Being bilingual is an asset since I work with a diverse
population that includes many Spanish-speaking patients.”
Murphy is generous in her praise for Dr. Pino and the care he provides
for the clinic’s patients.
“Dr. Pino has such a warm chairside manner; he is calm and kind,”
she adds. “Even adult patients who come in shaking in fear of dentists,
leave with big smiles. A few have even given him hugs on their way out
There is increasing evidence that dental disease is associated with cardiovascular
disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic health problems, so Dr. Pino
is heartened that he is performing more routine exams and cleanings as
the word has spread about the subsidized services offered.
“It is rewarding to see that the recall rate at the clinics is going
up. More patients are getting cleanings and routine care, which is very
beneficial in the long term and can prevent more serious problems. This
is an important service that Valley Health and the local free clinics
provide to the community, and a great investment in our people. I am proud
to be part of this great team!”