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‘Pretty much a direct hit’

Dr. Charles McGinty describes aftermath

Joplin, Mo.—Going forward, it’s going to be difficult, Dr. Charles McGinty said of this city devastated by the capricious and malicious winds of May 22, 2011.

Image: Inside view: One of Dr. McGinty’s former hallways shows tornado’s devastation.
Inside view: One of Dr. McGinty’s former hallways shows tornado’s devastation.

“It’s a tremendous loss to the community, all the lives lost, almost a 500-bed hospital incapacitated and patient care set back. Our community is going to have to pull together to provide the kind of health care they’re used to. And there are all those people who worked at the hospital and our offices and staff and the people working for us. Those are all challenging things. Some of us lost patients. Some of us lost friends.”

Dr. McGinty, who practiced some 20 years in a two-story concrete block, steel and brick veneer professional office building, “but nothing to withstand that storm,” sees himself as “fortunate and blessed and my staff are all OK.” But the health care physical infrastructure concentrated in the southwest part of town scourged by those springtime winds “took pretty much a direct hit.

“Our hospitals and many of our medical personnel, our dental personnel were located there,” said Dr. McGinty.

“Many of us chose to locate our offices in this hospital area. The storm completely leveled many dental offices. And I mean, they’re leveled, nothing left of them. One of our relatively new oral surgeons was actually in his office. He had to dig himself out of his debris. It looks like a Hollywood movie where it’s Armageddon and everything is blown away.”

Dr. McGinty said he has “the essentials we need to continue treatment” in a new location with the help of dental colleagues who will share their undamaged facility. But even some of the dental offices undamaged by the storm were unable to resume patient care immediately because of power or water loss or both. Dr. McGinty said he had to refer two patients to Springfield, some 70 miles distant, for endodontic therapy.

Dr. McGinty offered a photo gallery of the destruction that visited his building and destroyed most but not all of his equipment, supplies and records. Chairs were crushed and X-rays mangled, but Dr. McGinty “got all my active patient charts out” and recovered the computer server. “I picked it up and carried it out and it didn’t appear to have any damage. We have the essentials we need to continue treatment. I hope to see patients within a week.”

And that’s an illustration of the collegiality of profession and community as Dr. McGinty explained it in an interview. “I called one of my colleagues who helped me in the past. He is going to allow me to work in his office.”

The co-located practices will have different patient hours, different times of the day, different days of the week but dentistry will continue as Dr. McGinty told the patient who “called to check on me” and inquire about his upcoming appointment.

In the meantime, Dr. McGinty is visiting with colleagues to determine who needs help.

Dr. McGinty’s tripartite activity includes current service on the American Dental Political Action Committee (ADPAC) Board of Directors and 1998-2002 service with the ADA Council on Government Affairs.

Image: Colleague: Photo showing damage to Dr. Michael Fitterling’s dental office.
Colleague: One of the photos Dr. McGinty shared was of the damage to Dr. Michael Fitterling’s dental office.