Special Care for Special Needs Patient & Family


Mark Nelson (center) puts a comforting arm around his nephew Jonathan as the pair pays a visit to the NorthBay Surgery Center in Vacaville to thank NorthBay nurses Holly Green (left) and Elizabeth Scott-Paulsen.

When a special needs patient needs dental surgery, it can be a bit of an ordeal.

Just ask Mark Nelson, of Santa Rosa, who has taken care of his nephew, Jonathan, since he was 3 years old. A previous experience at another facility was pretty much a disaster, he said.

But when he and Jonathan, now 29, arrived at the NorthBay Surgery Center in Vacaville, it was a very different experience. Not only was the greeting warm and friendly, Jonathan was immediately put at ease by the nursing team of Elizabeth Scott-Paulsen, R.N., and Holly Green, R.N.

“That’s not easy to do,” explained Mark. “Jonathan is mentally about 2 ½ to 3 years old… and he was very nervous about the procedure. The team here, they’re angels.”

Jonathan’s dentist, Kristina McGinley, D.D.S., understands the family’s concerns. “The dental office can be a very scary and confusing place for someone with special needs,” she said. “Unfortunately because of this, very few dentists are willing to treat them, or do not know what resources exist to get them the care they need. It is so great when we can take a patient like Jonathan to the operating room, sedate him, and treat all of his dental needs at one time.”

In addition to hospital dentistry in Vacaville and Antioch, Dr. McGinley has a private practice in Pittsburg and Rodeo. She and her partner, Dr. Rodney Bughao, travel to Vacaville a few times each month to serve special needs patents in this area.

“Many of our patients are not able to verbalize their pain, if they are having any,” explained Dr. McGinley. “This is why it is so important that we see them regularly to maintain their oral health and keep them from experiencing dental pain.

“Unfortunately for many patients and families, access to this kind of care is hard to come by. We try our best to remedy that by offering our services throughout Northern California to make the trips to see us more convenient for families and care givers.”

Even after the procedure was finished, the ease of care continued with Brittany Thompson, R.N. making Jonathon comfortable as he was coming out of the anesthesia.

“I just can’t say enough about how well we were treated,” said Mark. “There are other facilities in this area that won’t help us. I’m not one to blow my horn unless I mean it. These folks are amazing.”

To back up his words, he sent bouquets to the nurses on the team, and offered his heartfelt thanks.

He also made a big impression on Dr. McGinley.

“I will never forget coming out to the waiting room and having Mark thank me for helping his ‘best friend’—his nephew Jonathan.”

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