The Last Laugh

Dear Editor,

After reading Mordechai Schmutter’s article about dentists (“Like Pulling Teeth,” March 8), I felt that a proper response was called for. This is especially true because, Mr. Schmutter, you said a mouthful!

It might interest you to know that your humor column made me, a dentist, laugh. However, what I found humorous was far different than what you intended.

We dentists know that patients like you enjoy talking and laughing about us. What you don’t know is that we dentists have even more fun talking and laughing about someone like you.

Why do we find you amusing? Let me count the ways.

Funny: You sound like an intelligent individual who can write coherent English sentences, but think about what you stated in your article.

You bought an expensive dental insurance policy, with the hope and expectation that you would make money off them. That is, you paid them $1,000 fully expecting that they will pay your dentist $2,000. Do you also believe in the tooth fairy?

You expect the insurance company to pay you more than you paid them, despite the obvious evidence all around you. Have you noticed that the grandest, most magnificent skyscrapers in Manhattan were built by insurance companies? Have you noticed that the highest-paid CEOs are the ones who head insurance companies?

So, let’s analyze this situation. You showed extremely poor judgment in purchasing an expensive policy without checking with your dentist to see if it would be worthwhile and without it occurring to you that the insurance company is more adept in making money off you than you are at making money off them. And now, you’d like us to subsidize your substandard financial acumen.

Every dentist that I know will go out of their way to help out a loyal patient who is undergoing financial difficulties. You have switched dentists six times in seven years and expect us to finance you and your insurance company? That’s pretty funny.

Funnier: You have a tooth that needed root-canal therapy, a difficult procedure that does require some extra time, skill, and expertise, and astutely chose a dentist who was the cheapest.

Have you noticed how the government chooses contractors who submit the lowest bids? Have you ever asked the post office to search their warehouse for a missing package? Have you ever replaced tires damaged by inexpertly but economically repaired highway potholes?

It would be funnier if the Five Towns Jewish Times would choose to print the work of columnists who were the cheapest.

Funniest: We dentists have broad shoulders, and are somewhat anesthetized to jokes about our fees. Yes, it is true that we earn a living practicing dentistry, and yes, it is true that we actually charge fees for the procedures that we perform.

Remarkably, you seem to have found a dentist who actually cares about you. He has spent considerable time attempting to not only educate you about your oral health but also to help you avoid future dental problems.

You do realize, I suppose, that your dentist does not get paid anything while he is trying to teach you how to make your mouth healthier and how to avoid future invasive and expensive procedures. Why is he being so generous of his time with you? I can only speculate that perhaps you have an eligible, single son, and that he has seven unmarried daughters.

How do you repay his kindness and generosity? You write sarcastically, ignore his advice, and miss your appointments. Meanwhile, we know that as you continue to ignore our advice, and continue to neglect your cavities, you will eventually call us in the middle of the night with another acute root-canal emergency.

I wonder which of your six dentists that you abandoned, complained about, and ignored will agree to see you.

And that scenario is the funniest of all.

Jeffrey Galler, D.D.S.

What If?

Dear Editor,

A what-if way of thinking is rarely productive. One cannot live in fear, nor should he. But there are times when it is necessary to think about what if. And this is one of those times.

In the flooding of October 29, 2012, the Number Six School building and the area surrounding it were hit very hard. The schoolyard was badly flooded; water poured into the building and into thousands of nearby homes. For those who are not planning to vote simply because they do not live close by, or for those who might consider voting yes, it is time to put on our collective thinking caps! The proposed tax savings that have been promised will be laughingly minimal, but there is so much more to consider.

Should the school become a comprehensive medical facility, it is fair to assume that the people who are responsible for so doing will comply with the law by legally disposing of all toxic waste. It is true of any sizable medical facility, hospital, or laboratory that there is always medical waste as well as chemical waste from radiology equipment.

The important difference is that not all hospitals and labs are in low-lying areas of a residential community, located on the south shore of Nassau County, which are known to flood. Storm Sandy taught us a lesson. The flooding that occurred was totally unexpected, but, as we all now know, if it happened once, it can happen again. It is understood that medical and chemical waste are treated and that pipes are routinely flushed. But what if? What might happen if there is once again another backup as floodwaters pour in, and then back out? Ruptured pipes could spell disaster not just for immediate neighbors of the building and those in the surrounding area. It would have far-reaching effects on both the drinking water as well as the groundwater for many thousands more.

School District 15 residents who live in outlying areas must consider the risk to which their friends and neighbors might be subjected.

It is very important that we do not become complacent as a result of rumors that the corporation is rethinking their offer. Vote ‘no’ on March 20.

Hannah Reich Berman


Smoke And Mirrors

Dear Editor,

Having attended the debate at the library this week, I find the Simone group misleading the community with their lies and deceptions.

If, as Ben [Weinstock] admitted tonight, the savings would only amount to the 35 bucks that has been calculated, why do they keep insisting that it would mean millions in savings for the residents?

Ben also keeps insisting that their traffic expert maintains that there will be no additional traffic jams. Does that make sense in light of the more than 500 to 600 patients coming every hour for 12 hours per day, every day? Those numbers are correct. Not the disinformation by Weinstock. In our practice at Downstate Pediatrics we schedule patients for 20-minute slots. But every practice schedules two patients for each slot. That is six patients per hour. In adult practices they schedule even more. That is reality.

This is why I said that the Simone group is talking out of both sides of their mouth. They show in one hand Mt. Sinai, Mt. Sinai, Mt. Sinai. But in the other hand they are asking local practitioners to join their practice. Well, that’s not Mt. Sinai, is it?

It’s a dog and pony show. Smoke and mirrors.

Meanwhile they are trying to ruin our neighborhood.

Those of us who oppose this plan are very passionate because we are fighting for our children, our community, and our way of life! Nothing is more important!

Dr. Alex Sternberg, MPH,Sc.D, M.Sc.


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