Dr. Grazioso of South Shore Children’s Dentistry helped patients in pain in southern Ethiopia where dental care is rare

By Kristi Funderburk |

Visiting Africa has long been a hope lingering in the back of Dr. Kristine Grazioso’s mind.

So when a friend asked the Marshfield resident and Cohasset dentist to join her group, Ethiopia’s Daughters, on their next journey, Grazioso didn’t hesitate.

She could finally fulfill a dream of doing mission work in the place that appealed to her most.

“It caught my heart,” Grazioso said. “I plan to go back.”

Grazioso spent about a week working in Ethiopia. She returned Jan. 21.

The group that went on this trip, including three physicians, a physician’s assistant, a mother-daughter team, and Grazioso, offered a wide range of help for the people in Karat/Konso, a town in southern Ethiopia. They worked out of a hospital built only about a year ago.

During her short visit, Grazioso was the only dentist in the southern part of Ethiopia, Gerry Nicholls, founder and president of Ethiopia’s Daughters, said.

That meant she would come across problems she wouldn’t normally address on her own at her practice, South Shore Children’s Dentistry. For example, she had a patient with a broken wisdom tooth.

She also had to figure out how to sterilize her tools. Nicholls used sterilization equipment from a brewery to help her solve that dilemma.

Nicholls recalled a hospital manager telling him, however, that anything she could do was better than the alternative, which was nothing.

He spoke highly of Grazioso’s ability to fit in, recalling that he told her once she arrived, she would know what to do.

“She was very nervous in the beginning, but she completely bought in,” he said.

In these Ethiopia’s Daughters mission trips, Nicholls said he doesn’t just welcome any volunteer, but wants someone who is lively and a free thinker. Often the result is the same in the response from his volunteers.

“I’ve seen volunteers go and they get hooked. They go and see the results, they live the results,” he said.

The physicians saw about 40 patients per day and the mother-daughter team, which did an eye test and distributed 200 pairs of reading glasses, Grazioso said.

She watched with admiration as her group worked tirelessly to help a 12-year-old girl with gangrene on her legs, one arm and a finger.

“My group, they really did save someone’s life,” she said.

Grazioso’s task was to help people in the remote region overcome their oral pains.

“This trip, the goal was if someone came to me in pain, which was everyone I saw, I would take the tooth out that was causing pain,” she said.

Source: Cohasset Mariner

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