Golisano Foundation Leadership Award Recipient: Lisa DeLucia

Posted at: 09/06/2012 7:08 AM
Updated at: 10/12/2012 6:06 PM
By: Nikki Rudd

She’s a Greece native with a passion for kids with special needs. From Geneva to Harvard to Webster where she now has a private practice, Dr. Lisa DeLucia has something special with dealing with developmental disabilities.

She said, “You really have to think on your toes and be creative and just be up for the challenge.” She's also an assistant professor at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health.

One of her patients – Matt Jacobs -- is a 10-year-old boy with autism. His mother, Valerie Orbaker said, “Matt doesn’t always take to everybody so quickly but when he met her, he just relaxed.

Orbaker says it’s been a rough road getting good dental care after a recent insurance overhaul plus a lack of understanding or training among dentists. “A lot of people with developmental disorders don’t like to be touched around the mouth They don’t understand what’s going on. It’s been wonderful to find somebody like Dr. DeLucia. She’s so patient and caring with my children.”

Matt’s mom isn’t the only one singing her praises.

“Next to hear mother, I may be her biggest fan.” In college, Dr. DeLucia interned with Dr. Susan Hyman. “I am incredibly proud of Lisa”

Dr. Hyman is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and has studied developmental disabilities for decades. “Children with disabilities have among the worst dental hygiene and have among the highest medical risk and she is on the fore-front of prevention.”
Dr. Hyman says Dr. Delucia treats the whole person and is already making an impact. “Her vision for accessible dental care for children is really a gift to all of us.”

Dr. Delucia believes it's all about working with each family -- families that can't begin to thank her enough. “It's incredible. It really blows me away because I don't think what I do is anything special I just take care of the kids.” And that's something this dentist will continue to do.

Dr. DeLucia is a dentist in private practice, who treats patients with intellectual disabilities, and teaches pediatric dentistry residents at URMC’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health. Dr. DeLucia completed the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship and has published research about dental students’ perceptions and attitudes toward providing dental care to people with developmental disabilities.  She has volunteered in Special Olympics’ Special Smiles events since she was a dental student.