Roderick Frazier, former dental director and staff dentist at Sadler Health Center, plans to retire this month after nearly 20 years at Sadler.
“Dr. Frazier leaves a legacy of exceptional dentistry and compassionate care that we look forward to continuing in his honor,” said Manal El Harrak, chief executive officer of Sadler Health Center. “During his nearly two decades of caring for the dental needs of our patients in Loysville and Carlisle, Dr. Frazier was instrumental in helping to fulfill our mission of advancing the health of our community by providing inclusive, high-quality and compassionate care.”
During his career at Sadler, Frazier was recognized by a variety of organizations for his clinical and philanthropic work. In 2016, he was named Public Health Professional of the Year by Partnership for Better Health and was the recipient of the Outstanding Clinician Award in 2017 by the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers. Currently, he serves as the vice president of the Carlisle Rotary Club.
Lisa Juliana, dental operations manager at Sadler, said Frazier created a learning environment for students from Cumberland-Perry Area Vocational Technical School and HACC who needed to complete clinical requirements. Some of those students went on to become Sadler employees.
“His commitment to mentorship, kind demeanor and outstanding dental care will be greatly missed,” she said.
Frazier also developed a keen interest in infection control and applied his knowledge to the dental clinic’s day-to-day operations, she said. He was also a former CPR instructor for Sadler’s staff.
According to Frazier, community health centers play an important role in providing accessible, affordable dental care.
“I was born into poverty and didn’t have access to dental care,” Frazier said. “The opportunity to take care of the basic health care needs of people who fell through the cracks is what brought me to Sadler.”
Before joining Sadler in January 2001, Frazier spent more than 20 years as a dentist in the U.S. Army. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Bethany College in West Virginia and his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Howard University College of Dentistry in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Pennsylvania Dental Association, and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention.
“I’ve enjoyed caring and treating for thousands of patients during my tenure at Sadler,” Frazier said. “I will miss the first-rate dental team at Sadler, a team that is caring, professional and always goes out of their way to serve and take care of the dental needs of the community.”
During his retirement, Frazier plans to travel, spend more time with family, develop new hobbies and enhance his photography skills.
Q. What has been the most challenging aspect of providing dental care at Sadler?
A. The most challenging aspect for me is successfully taking care of patients who are impacted by cavities and gum disease only to find a new wave of patients appearing with the same challenges.
When I was in dental school more than 40 years ago, I was told that with the advent of fluoride and oral hygiene awareness, most dentists would eventually be out of work. Obviously, that was incorrect. There are many reasons why decay and gum disease are still prevalent today, including:
- Kids are introduced to sugary foods at an early age (infants). Once they develop an affinity to sweets, the habit is hard to break.
- Families in the lower socio-economic income levels often cannot afford to buy healthy, fresh foods. Foods that are high in carbs, additives and sugars are cheaper and easier to purchase.
- Drugs, tobacco, and vaping increase the risk for tooth decay and gum problems.
- People are living longer, and with that comes diseases related to advanced age including root decay and chronic gum disease. A patient’s diet and/or medications can impact their oral health.
- We have more migrants and immigrants coming to the United States and they bring their own unique set of dental challenges.
Q. By contrast, what has given you the greatest sense of fulfillment while working there?
A. It is very rewarding when patients thank me for the dental care I have provided their families over the years. I have worked at Sadler long enough to treat multiple generations of patients. I am so grateful for their confidence in me.
Q. Aside from community health centers like Sadler, are there other ways to make dental care more accessible to people?
A. I am not aware of any consistent ways to make dental care accessible to people other than through community health centers. Like medical care, dental care is generally expensive. If a person doesn’t have dental insurance, then they need to provide payment up front unless the dentist provides a payment plan. Even with commercial dental insurances people still have to pay a percentage of the total fee for certain procedures.
Most of Sadler’s patients have Medicaid which places limits on certain dental procedures and some procedures are not covered at all. Most dentists in Carlisle do not accept Medicaid insurance, but this is also true for most private dental practices in the United States.
For those seeking dental care, a community health center is the answer. At Sadler, no one is turned away because of their inability to pay. If a patient doesn’t have any type of dental insurance, Sadler bases the payment on a sliding fee scale which aligns with the person’s income. If a patient is homeless and has no source of income, Sadler will still provide treatment.
Q. Students from both Cumberland-Perry Vocational Technical School and HACC completed clinical hours under your guidance at Sadler. What are some of the lessons you offered as a mentor to them?
A. First of all, I have to give credit to my staff. The true mentors were our experienced dental assistants who provided daily guidance to the CPVTS students, and our hygienists like Lisa Juliana who shared her experiences and made recommendations to the HACC student hygienists to help them improve their technical abilities.
The CPVTS students learned how to pass instruments properly to the dentist and how to prepare restorative materials. They also learned proper infection control techniques in a fast-paced environment, time management skills and how to interact with different age groups.
The hygiene students learned about time management, alternative instruments used to remove deposits, optimal patient positioning and ideal self-positioning to minimize back strain.
I simply provided the opportunity and Sadler provided the environment to make it all happen. My goal was to give these students access to real-world experiences while offering advice and guidance whenever I could.
Q. What’s your number one tip for oral care?
A. My number one tip for oral care is to have an oral exam and your teeth professionally cleaned every six months. That’s the only way people can find out if they have a minor dental issue before it becomes a big dental problem.
Email Tammie at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.