Mobilizing God’s Talents
by Shayna Landis, Development & Communications Intern
Sitting in Bethesda’s state-of-the-art Dental Clinic that was built in 2014, Dr. Brice Arndt leaned back and reflected on his experiences as a volunteer dentist. “Here, in all respects, is God’s House,” He said. “All you have to do is walk through the doors and you can sense that.” Made possible by volunteer professionals like Dr. Arndt, the Dental Clinic has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a simple idea to an extension of Bethesda’s long-term recovery services, caring for over 1,500 guests a year.
Starting in 2009, Dr. David Russell had a vision to alleviate the medical complications for shelter guests who lacked proper dental care. With two donated dental chairs, Dr. Russell created an fully-functioning dental clinic that was rooted in serving guests while sharing the love of Christ. Now, the clinic performs various services like x-rays, comprehensive examinations, teeth cleanings, extractions and fillings, dentures, and urgent dental care. Volunteer dentists, dental hygienists, and on-staff dental assistants all join together to make the Dental Clinic God’s house; a place where guests can receive professional care in a calm, Christ-centered atmosphere.
Meet Dr. Brice Arndt
Originally hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Dr. Arndt’s life took some interesting turns to end up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He completed his Dental degree at the University of Minnesota where he played football for 4 years and met his wife. After completing his residency in West Virginia, the new DDS (doctor of dental surgery), began looking for somewhere to settle. “A place to start taking care of people and getting involved in the community” was at the top of his priority list. With the help of the Places Rated Almanac, Dr. Arndt and his wife visited Harrisburg for the first time, fell in love with the area, and haven’t left for 33 years.
“We bought a small home-attached practice in Camp Hill, ended up growing the practice to be the third largest solo dental practice in PA,” said Dr. Arndt. “The practice is patient-based, [focused on] taking care of people in the manner I would want to be taken care of.”
Connecting with Bethesda
Due to his interest in engaging with the community, Dr. Arndt volunteers in various forms. Years ago, a friend and previous director of Bethesda first connected him to the Mission. Later, Dr. Russell exposed him to how he could be involved and volunteer his dental services. Thus began the direct relationship between Dr. Arndt and Bethesda Mission. “I love being a dentist,” Dr. Arndt said, “I have fun doing it and there’s such a need here.” By volunteering at Bethesda, Dr. Arndt is able to do things that he enjoys, like surgery, to improve dental care for the guests. “With the minimal gifts that I do have, I try to come here and be of assistance.
A Typical Day
Dr. Arndt comes to the Bethesda Dental Clinic at 8:00 A.M. and constantly sees guests until about noon or 1:00 P.M.. “I love to be busy,” he said. “I probably have been here for a few hours today and I’ve already taken out 25 teeth!”
He enjoys the environment of the clinic as well. “I like how well organized it is here. I come in, I’ve got two awesome dental assistants in Sue and Rodica, and Cheryl manages the Clinic. I can focus on developing a relationship with a guest and then providing the service because I know that they are going to be able to follow-up with post-op care.” A typical day for Dr. Arndt is fast paced but he prefers it that way. “My motto is, use me and abuse me so I can better serve others that need help.”
Approach to Care
Consistent with his private practice, Dr. Arndt’s care is patient focused and this attitude is shared by everyone in the Clinic. “I’m very fortunate to have individuals that are so committed to the guests,” he said. One of the first things I noticed [at Bethesda] was that patients are called ‘guests.’ That’s a little different but at the same point it becomes a signal to how you are expected to treat them; how that relationship will be.”
Why does quality dental service matter? Because Bethesda treats all guests with respect and cares for all their needs in order to promote long-term recovery. Dr. Arndt said he is honored to be a part of this process — it is actually his favorite part: “We are concentrating on rebuilding someone’s life, at least from my standpoint, that really is what Bethesda Mission is all about.”
“It’s not a short fix — it’s meant to be a long-term fix and that’s one of the reasons why, in many of the cases, my understanding of Bethesda Mission is that this isn’t for one or two weeks and then they are gone,” Dr. Arndt commented. “If you are really committed to being able to go through the program, it is going to be a process and processes take time. That’s why I’m in love with Bethesda Mission.”
Dr. Arndt smiled when he was asked to reflect on meaningful experiences at Bethesda. He said, “I can’t really recall one guest in two years that didn’t have faith in what I could for them. Many of these individuals have had tough times. I could see and understand how they would be in a position to not be as trusting.” He continued, “They could be angry or have doubts but that doesn’t happen. In my own office, I can’t say the same thing.”
“There was a young lady who didn’t like the look of her smile and didn’t smile,” Dr. Arndt recalled. “So I did some work for her to help improve her smile. She was excited. I don’t know if she could do back flips but she probably would have after that. She was really excited and that makes me feel good.”
Every day that Dr. Arndt is at the Clinic, he sees firsthand how God is working and he’s humbled to be a part of it. “God put me on earth to do something to help other people. All I want to do is be able to mobilize the talents God gave me to make things better for other people.”
Bethesda Mission Dental Clinic depends on volunteer dentists like Dr. Arndt to provide over 450 hours of service per year. Because of their commitment, guests receive the proper care they deserve in the midst of a loving, Christ-filled environment.
If you or someone you know would like to volunteer at the clinic, please send them our way! Contact Deb King, volunteer coordinator, at 717-257-4442 x222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in the January 2019 edition of Bethesda Mission’s New Life Newsletter.
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