Golisano Foundation Leadership Award Recipient: Maricelle Abayon

Posted at: 09/06/2012 7:08 AM
Updated at: 10/16/2012 6:13 PM
By: Nikki Rudd

It's a family affair for Dr. Maricelle Abayon. She came here after working in a private family practice in the Philippines. Now she works at Eastman’s Howitt Urgent Dental Care.

“It's not pretty much what you know, it's how you approach the patients.” Dr. Abayon took an interest in helping patients with developmental disabilities get proper dental care and is also very involved in the Special Olympics. “I don't try to talk down to them which I think is very important I try to show them the respect that I would show to anyone.”

And it's her calm, cool approach that seems to work. “She's just amazing with it.” PJ Carson-Ladd is the lead dental assistant at Howitt Urgent Dental Care and he's seen Dr. Abayon dive right into the most challenging situation. “Regardless of a large patient whose aggressive, she's a shorter person, she still will go in there as thought it's her own child or it's her own relative.”

Carson-Ladd calls her fearless and has witnessed her patience. “I've worked with her for Special Olympics and you can tell there's a passion there, you tell there's a genuine love and caring that she gives out she just really enjoys it.”

But Dr. Abayon says there are still a lot of barriers for people with developmental disabilities to get access to dental care. “We just really wish we could provide for all of them the dental care that they needed but there's just so much to be done.”

In the meantime, she's doing what she can to make a difference. “It is very rewarding, it's very rewarding.”

Dr. Abayon, a dentist at Eastman’s Howitt Urgent Dental Care, treats people with developmental disabilities. She sees patients in pain from cavities that could have been treated earlier if dental care had been available.  Dr. Abayon joined the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Related Disorders (LEND) Fellowship program at Golisano Children’s Hospital, to help people with developmental disabilities who age out of pediatric dental practices and need care. She became the Clinical Director for Healthy Athletes Special Smiles, providing athletes dental screenings and al hygiene education. She also participates on the Community Task Force on Oral Health for People with Developmental Disabilities, to improve access and dental service.