Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WARNING: Head Start Programs To Offer Dental Care

WARNING TO PARENTS OF CHILDREN ENROLLED IN HEAD START PROGRAMS.

  • READ CONSENT FORMS CAREFULLY PRIOR TO ALLOWING ANY TREATMENT OF YOUR CHILD IN THE NEW HEAD START DENTAL PROGRAM.

  • MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT CONSENTING TO HAVING YOUR CHILD TIED UP/STRAPPED DOWN IN A RESTRAINT OF ANY KIND.


AAPD teams up with Head Start
New program will help secure dental homes for at-risk children Posted Feb. 20, 2008
By Stacie Crozier
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and Head Start are teaming up to help establish dental homes for young children enrolled in Head Start.
The AAPD Head Start Dental Home Initiative will be publicly announced Feb. 28 with a press conference in Washington. The initiative will create a national network of dentists to provide dental homes for Head Start and Early Head Start children, said Dr. John S. Rutkauskas, AAPD executive director.
"AAPD and Head Start are partnering at the national, regional, state and local levels to develop a national network of dentists to link Head Start children with dental homes," said Dr. Rutkauskas. "Dental homes mean that children's oral health care is delivered by dentists to children through an ongoing relationship that is comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family-centered." Read the full story here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Former Dentist With Small Smiles Confesses

WARNING: Video at the end of this report may be very disturbing.

2-15-2008
(Rochester, N.Y.) - Last December, 13WHAM showed a disturbing video tape of children strapped in restraints undergoing multiple root canals while their parents were kept out of the room.


Now, the man who once ran the Irondequoit Small Smiles Branch is speaking out for the first time.

He was jailed for fraud. In a follow-up to our 13 WHAM News investigation, he told Jane Flasch that some of the procedures that so traumatized children weren't even necessary.

Rochester's Small Smiles dental office opened with a promise to serve children who don't get regular dental care. Clinic director, Dr. David Gardner, was hauled into a Monroe County court 14 months later.

Gardner pleaded guilty to grand larceny and left Rochester for prison. Now, he wants to come clean about what he says was going on behind closed doors on Ridge Road in Irondequoit.

"Taxpayer dollars are being wasted because they're paying for treatment that's not getting done, treatment that doesn't need to be done, and children aren't being treated like children," Gardner said.

Ashley Sones was a patient during that time. Nine of her teeth were extracted. Another dentist reviewed Ashley's x-rays.

He confirmed that at least two of her teeth could have been saved. But, her file did not contain enough information about the rest.

She never did get partial she was promised; it was denied.

Some very young Small Smiles patients had metal caps, crowns, and root canals. Dentists dispute whether root canals and crowns are the best treatment option for young patients.

However, Gardner said he was under pressure from the corporation to make $1 million every year.

"The biggest thing you can do is those baby root canals and crowns because it’s $220 that Medicaid does not question. It’s just $220, $220, $220," Gardner said.

The Rochester office would not allow cameras inside.

Gardner said they routinely used another controversial technique to restrain children. On an attached video taken at a Small Smiles in Maryland, you can see a small child strapped to a papoose board which holds his body and arms immobile.

Gardner said papoose boards were encouraged in order to complete four or more root canals at a time. Even though it made kids frightened and stressed.

"Stressed out enough to wet their pants, sweat completely through their clothes, be all wet," Gardner said. He said he was told, “Clean them up as best you can before you give them to mom and dad."

Ashley Sones said both she and her younger brother Wesley were physically held down.

"My heart was racing,” she said. “It felt like blood was rushing through my body."

Their mother never even knew. It was Small Smiles policy not to allow parents to be with their children.

"I trusted them,” said Ashley’s mother Wendy. “That's their job."

Since our reports first aired in December, Small Smiles changed its policies. It now allows parents to be present with their children for procedures.

While it still uses papoose boards, the policy is clearly posted and parents can refuse. As for Gardner, the company characterized him as someone with an ax to grind.

Gardner confessed to billing Medicaid for work he did not do.

Investigators say Small Smiles cooperated in the investigation against Gardner and repaid nearly half a million dollars.

Gardner has surrendered his medical license and now sells RVs in Indianapolis.

He says he was pressured into the Small Smiles way of doing business with the understanding that if he were caught, he would be taken care of.

"I've lost my career, I've lost my livelihood," he said.

A member of the Pediatric Dentistry Program at SUNY Buffalo conducted an independent review of the Small Smiles Rochester office last month.

He concluded that restraints, crowns, and other procedures are being used in the proper manner.

Nevertheless, we were not allowed to see a copy of the review documents.

The reviewer spent only half a day at the clinic and did not interview parents. Criminal investigations are underway in several states including New York.
Small Smiles is the name of the clinics in the Rochester NY area, however they also go under different names including Kool Smiles, all managed my FORBA, LLC out of Nashville, TN a subsidiary of Arcapita Bank based in the Middle East.

See this dentists Plea Agreement, Read about his bonus paid to him from Small Smiles, and more here




video

Since the report aired, Small Smiles has changed its policies, now allowing parents to accompany their children during procedures. Small Smiles cooperated with authorities, repaid close to half a million dollars.

Continue here

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Disturbing Allegations Against Small Smiles



Small Smiles is under National Investigation due to an investigation siting barbaric treatment of children in it's dental offices across the nation according to ABC-7 news.


Here is a transcript of the latest report from ABC-7 I-Team Investigation in the DC area.
Date:2-11-08



This is Brandon from N. Carolina showing off his mouthful of baby root canals capped in metal.


And Daniel from Colorado with abrasions and welts from visiting the dentist.


And Miguel from Maryland, strapped down on a papoose board while his mother is forced to wait outside.


Miguel's treatment was not an isolated case. The I-Team has learned that routine use of papoose boards in the Small Smiles network of clinics has injured and traumatized children, and may have played a role in this child's death.


At least a dozen states have launched civil or criminal investigations, many


of them prompted by our reports.


In Arizona…4 year old Jonathan strapped in restraints died from an overdose of anesthesia while this dentist performed five baby root canals.


Dr. Matthew Nolen: "No comment."


The state investigation found that Jonathan was restrained "for no justifiable reason" and his symptoms "could have been masked by the papoose board." The dentist's license was revoked.


Roberta Baskin: "Does the Small Smiles home office encourage the use of these papoose boards?


Doug Gardner: "Yes."


In New York Doug Gardner lost HIS dental license after being convicted of Medicaid fraud for double billing at a Small Smiles clinic.


Doug Gardner: "When you're throwing that much treatment at Medicaid that quickly, they can't check everything."


The I-Team tracked Gardner down to Indianapolis, where he agreed to speak out about Small Smiles practices for the first time.


Doug Gardner: "Taxpayer dollars are being wasted because they're paying for treatment that's not getting done, treatment that doesn't need to be done, and children aren't being treated like children."


This Small Smiles patient remembers being physically held down in the Rochester clinic two years ago.


Ashley Sones: "I was sweating. My whole body was shaking. It was like I was having a seizure."


Gardner says it was not uncommon.


Roberta Baskin: "How stressed out did these patients get?


Doug Gardner: "Stressed out enough to wet their pants, sweat completely through their clothes, be all wet."


Roberta Baskin: "And how are you told to manage that?


Doug Gardner: "Clean them up as best you can before you get them back to mom or dad."


That's another Small Smiles policy. Separating parents from children during dental procedures. In North Carolina Brandon's mom couldn't imagine what was taking three hours until he emerged with 16 baby root canals and steel caps.


Christy Dillbeck/Brandon's mother: "I couldn't stop crying cuz I was very upset and wanted to see him."


In Colorado, these police photos are evidence of young children bruised from restraints. Daniel had 8 teeth drilled and capped in one sitting.


Beatrice Ponce/Daniel's mother: "He just hears the word 'dentist' and he starts to cry and scream that he doesn't want to go in."


Dentists tell us baby root canals and caps may not always be the best treatment option for young patients, but DO result in the best reimbursement for Small Smiles.


Doug Gardner: "The Small Smiles way of taking care of children is to maximize every dollar that they can, during that patient visit, at all costs."


After Gardner's clinic was audited, Small Smiles paid back $444,000 in overcharges.


Gardner: "I've lost my career. I've lost my livelihood." "I'm unemployable now."


Except as an RV salesman in Indianapolis… where he can't forget the pressure from Small Smiles to break a million dollars in profits each year.


"The biggest thing you can do is those baby root canals and crowns cuz it's $220 that Medicaid does not question. ...its just 220, 220, 220, 220, 220."
-----------------------------------------------------


AS A RESULT OF OUR REPORTS, THE MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS LAUNCHED A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF SMALL SMILES.


THE CURRENT MANAGEMENT COMPANY, FORBA, TOOK OVER THE CLINICS IN SEPT 2006 AND SAYS IT CAN'T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PROBLEMS THAT OCCURRED BEFORE THEN.


THEY DECLINED AN ON CAMERA INTERVIEW, BUT TELL US THEY'RE UNDERTAKING AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION IN MARYLAND AND THE DISTRICT.
At the site above you can read a couple of so called statements from the folks at FORBA. They really don't say a whole lot...other than a lot of blah blah blah. What I find most interesting is what they Do Not mentions.

Here is FORBA-Small Smiles-Kool Smiles Latest Statement...like I said... a lot of blah blah blah. I did note that the press release is from the renowned Rubin Meyer, a "marketing" and "communication" firm in Washington DC. Here is what Ruben Meyer says at their site as to exactly what they do:
Many companies face challenges from regulators and policymakers in Washington and must navigate what can be a difficult business environment. The days of the back-room deal are gone. Today it takes hard work, creativity, and a clear message to get the job done in Washington.
Maybe it's just me but I read that as "Lobbyist". What is clear is that these people at FORBA-Small Smiles-Kool Smiles whatever have some really big bucks to spend to hire these people for their press releases.
Date: 2-8-08
Don Meyer
Donald.Meyer@rubinmeyer.com
202-834-6859


STATEMENT OF FORBA DENTAL MANAGEMENT
Nashville, TN – FORBA Dental Management, management company of Small Smiles
Dental Centers, released the following statement today:
“The current executive leadership and ownership of FORBA Dental
Management, the management company of Small Smiles, has been in place
since September 2006. Since that time, our objective has been to provide highquality
dental care to children in underserved communities nationwide, and we
have taken steps to improve the policies and culture of the company to meet
that goal.
“Most recently, we have launched a number of initiatives, detailed in previous
statements to WJLA, to improve care and ensure a positive experience for
children and parents at Small Smiles Dental Centers.
“Under our management, Small Smiles’ 1,600 employees and caregivers
work tirelessly to ensure that underserved children receive the highest
quality, compassionate care at our facilities nationwide.”


They fail to address the fact that they are also called Kool Smiles in many states. At this point in time Kool Smiles are popping up on every street corner. You can do job searches and Kool Smiles are looking for employees in many states across the US. Not so many under the name Small Smiles. Wonder why that is exactly?

My hat's is off to the people at ABC-7 Investigation team. Forba has posted another great statement with general denial on the website of WJLA under the comments section, however I wonder why they keep making "statements" and won't answer some  hard questions.

  Amazing though how since this latest report has come out, there are people signing up on the comments section to basically stick up for FORBA, wonder if they might me part of the new marketing machine, ya think? Do these posters actually think people are stupid or what?

Water boarding is all over the news as to whether it's an appropriate torture for murders at Gitmo. I tell you what, I'm more concerned about "Papoose Boarding" right here stateside and this is being done to our very own children buy dentists across the US.

It certainly isn't just these dental chains who are making the news, it's your local private dentist as well.

Parents Overbilled For Pediatric Dental Care

Below is snippet from a blog of another parent complaining about being ripped off by a pediatric dentist. The dentist is out of Colorado Springs, CO of all places. If you've been keeping up with my blog you know there are many references to children's dentistry and the great state of Colorado.

If the dentist had not been so greedy hitting the parents up for more money they probably would have gotten away with over billing the insurance company.

I encourage EVERYONE to really look over the statements your insurance company sends you showing the amount they paid your dentist. Don't hesitate to call your dentist and ask about items you don't recognize or clearly understand.

If you find charges you feel are fraudulent file a complaint with the following:
The BBB
Your State's Dental Board
The ADA
The Federal Trade Commission
Your Insurance Company
Your State's Attorney General


Also the ADA has procedure codes (standardized codes used to bill insurance companies for each procedure). Don't hesitate to call other dentists and ask what they charge for the particular code of interest. You can also do this to "shop around".


We reviewed the bills, they charged us for 5 cavities and told us they going to do one. They charged significantly over what the insurance considers reasonable and expect us to pay the difference.

We are still trying to figure out why they charged $300 for sedation when our regular dentist charges $45. Why we have a bill for 5 cavities when one was fixed. Until we figure this out DO NOT GO TO COLORADO SPRINGS CHILDREN'S DENTISTRY.

We have paid almost $1000 for one infected tooth. I believe they are taking advantage of us by overcharging and billing for work that wasn't done.

Steer clear of Derek Kirkham DDS, and the rest of Colorado Springs Pediatric Dentistry. This practice is out to rob you blind.

Check out the full complaint here.