Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

Permanent link  Leo Finley Jr., past CDS president, dead at 73


Past president of the Chicago Dental Society Dr. Leo R. Finley Jr. died Friday in his home in Orland Park. He was 73.

Dr. Finley served as president of CDS in 1989-90, and served the American Dental Association as 8th District trustee in 1998.

Finley, LeoVisitation will be today, Aug. 29, from 3-9 p.m. at Thornridge Funeral Home (Janusz Family Funeral Service), 14318 S. LaGrange Rd., Orland Park. Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Aug. 30, at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, with interment at Good Shepherd Cemetery. 

It was requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Finley enjoyed a long career in dentistry, managing a busy practice in Chicago’s south suburbs. He was also active in organized dentistry on the local, state and national levels for more than 40 years. 

At CDS, Dr. Finley held all offices in his South Suburban Branch before his term as president in 1972-73. He was later elected to the CDS Board of Directors, and ultimately served as president of CDS in 1989-90, which coincided with the 125th Midwinter Meeting.

At the state level, Dr. Finley was elected vice speaker of the Illinois State Dental Society’s House of Delegates and chaired the Dent-IL-PAC Governor’s Club. 

At the national level, Dr. Finley represented Illinois dentists at the ADA House of Delegates, 1986-88 and 1996-97. He was elected 8th District Trustee in 1998.

Dr. Finley ran an unsuccessful campaign for president of the ADA in 2002. He told the CDS Review at that time, “In the past 39 years, I have been privileged to work with many volunteers in my capacity as committee member or officer and have made many close friends across the country. I’ve enjoyed seeing how our organization has changed and grown. My role in making some of those changes possible has been the most satisfying moments of my career.”

Dr. Finley was both a graduate of the Chicago College of Dental Surgery/Loyola University, Class of 1963, and a veteran of the U.S. Army. He served with the Dental Corps as a captain, 1963-65.

He returned to Chicago at the end of his service to start his practice and to teach at the Loyola University Dental School through 1969.

Dr. Finley is survived by his wife of 50 years, Alicia; their children Leo III (Brenda), Timothy (Donna), Allen (Laurie), Suzanne Duntz and Paul (Laura); 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.



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Permanent link  CURE provides dental care to 1,200


The line formed long before the sun came up Friday, Aug. 19, the first day of the three-day free healthcare clinic organized by the Westchester-based Collaborative Underserved Relief and Education Network (CURE). With support from Remote Area Medical (RAM), CURE’s volunteer dentists, physicians, ophthalmologists, nurses, hygienists, technicians and all their auxiliaries delivered care to more than 2,000 people.

“The event was so much more than I had hoped it would be,” said Josette Szalko, executive director of CURE. “We had a great group of volunteers that really stepped up. It was physically and emotionally challenging, but also a really exhilarating experience.

“We provide a dignified environment for patients. It was hard for them to come, they didn’t know what to expect and they were nervous. A lot of the people who came through weren’t expecting the level of care and compassion that they received.”

Patients queued for services long before dawn, and received numbers as the sun rose. Upon registering, professionals met with each patient to take a brief health history, and to chart the patient’s course for the day: primary care and eye clinics were in the basement, and a dental clinic occupied the main floor. Volunteers — who also began arriving before 5 a.m. — met patients at the entrance to each clinic area for an exam before sending the patient toward a professional, waiting to provide care.

“Nowhere can these people go and get all these services under one roof in one day,” Ms. Szalko said. “Yes, they had to wait throughout the day, but otherwise seeing an ophthalmologist is totally inaccessible.”

In the dental clinic, 1,200 patients received care over three days. This included 1,000 extractions, 640 fillings and 300 cleanings. 

Volunteers came from throughout the city and suburbs. Among them were many members of the Chicago Dental Society, but also nurses from the Veteran Administration hospitals, who helped patients better understand the medical services for which they are eligible, and volunteers from local churches who distributed snacks to patients in the waiting areas. The staff of Malcom X College, so impressed by the clinic that had moved in during the college’s registration period, collected donations and provided food on Saturday. Similarly, one student who was on campus to register for classes and buy books returned Saturday as a volunteer.

“I was absolutely overwhelmed, and it gave me hope,” Ms. Szalko said. “We all see so much bad news on television every night that it warmed my heart to see people stepping up and helping out.”

At discharge, patients met with volunteers to discuss follow-up care. Each patient received information for contacting two clinics where they could receive continued care. Some of the CURE volunteers will also be making follow-up calls to the patients in the coming weeks, to see if they’ve followed the hygiene instruction given to them.

Patients brought the volunteer clinicians innumerable challenges, but also gratitude for providing the care that has eluded them for so long. One woman who waited for care Friday returned to the clinic as a volunteer Saturday, while another patient ran to a nearby drug store and returned with a thank you card for her hygienist. 

Check out our photos from the CURE/RAM clinic on our Facebook page.


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Permanent link  Calling all dentists


It is now Monday morning, August 22nd. I’m sore, my feet ache, my knees are stiff and my back plain hurts. Yes, this is a typical Monday morning for me, but today the discomfort is from a different source. The last three days I worked the R.A.M. Dental Clinic at Malcolm X College

I signed up to work because Tom Sullivan and Keith Suchy asked, period. I’ve known the Boys for over 30 years and consider them friends. We don’t go out to dinner together. We don’t go on vacation together, but have worked together on dental projects forever. We have a dental bond. I felt they have earned the right to ask for my help and if I’m able to do it I would. 

Don’t give me any props. I sold my practice 10 weeks ago and have been lying on the couch ever since. My wife said a few weeks ago, “Get off the couch and do something already.” (I cleaned it up for publication purposes.) I had the time so I helped. 

There is a story about two elderly Jewish gentleman who go to Temple every Friday night: Goldberg, who is very religious, and Schwartz, who is less religious. Someone once asked Goldberg why he went to Temple every Friday night. He replied, “To talk to God.” Then the person asked Schwartz why he went every Friday night. He said, "To talk to Goldberg.” 

Everyone at Malcolm X had their own reason for giving up part or all of their weekend. Mine was to see and talk to my dental friends. I got to reconnect with former classmates, former students, and friends I hadn’t seen in months and years. I’m also grateful I was able to make new friends. I worked side by side and across from dentists I had not met before, but after 8, 9 and even 10 hours together we became friends. I was surrounded by a room full of the most talented dentists around. I was proud and privileged to be part of such a group. 

I extracted a bunch of teeth on a bunch of patients who would still be in pain if I was still on the couch. If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t have been done. I received numerous heartfelt thanks and a handful of hugs (I don’t like to hug). 

There was a chance to be on TV. The TV crew set up right by me, looked at me through the lens, and proceeded to set up two chairs down from me. They filmed a pretty young dentist and her pretty young dental assistant and they were featured on the news. If you attend one of these events, there is a chance you might be on the news. To be on the safe side, don’t work next to me. (Ed. note: Watch the ABC 7 news coverage online.)

I missed a lot of my dental colleagues these past few days. I know all of you give to many charities both of your time and money. I know in my heart dentists are some of the most generous and compassionate people. Next time you have an opportunity to do something like this, try and come out for a few hours. Talk with me. We will fix some teeth, extract some teeth and have some fun. For those of you who don’t know me, I would like to meet you. Let’s work side by side for a few hours and get to know each other. Let’s have some fun while doing some good. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Marc Wasserman
Loyola Class of 1980
Sullivan-Suchy Volunteer Class of 2011

Editor's Note: If you're looking for ways to volunteer your time, visit the Volunteer section of our website where we have a list of organizations looking for dental volunteers. You can also find out when the next volunteer event is. 


Permanent link  19th Annual Kids First Health Fair a success


Several CDS members were among the nearly 700 volunteers who made the 19th Annual Kids First Health Fair a success. Nearly 400 free dental exams were given Aug. 3 to Lake County children preparing for the 2011-2012 school year.

“Students need to be ready to hit the ground running when the first day of school arrives, and the health services provided at the fair help make that happen,” Roycealee Wood, Lake County Regional Superintendent of Schools, said in a prepared release.  “Without the completion of certain health requirements, a student could be excluded from attending school.”

The Kids First Health Fair is sponsored by the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center, with support from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, The United Way of Lake County and The Abbott Fund.

Kids First has served nearly 30,000 children since its inception in 1993. Prior to that year, many children in Lake County were failing to receive required health services in time for school deadlines. The Health Department worked with local businesses and agencies to coordinate volunteers for the one-day event.

This year, 955 children from 471 families were greeted by nurses, lab technicians, health aids, physicians, dentists, local residents, corporate employees and bilingual volunteers offering immunizations, dental screenings, physicals and other health services for kids all in one place. At the end of the day, volunteers provided a total of 525 physicals, 394 dental exams and 182 immunizations

Additionally, a variety of social service agencies are represented at the Fair to provide families with information on issues such as child care, crisis intervention, education, health services, housing, employment, parenting, substance abuse, legal services, safety, family counseling and other community services. 

The Fair is free for Lake County families that meet specific income guidelines and provide proof of residency. For example, a family of four with a gross income limit of $41,348 would qualify for Fair services. Upon evidence of completion of all required health services, school-age children received free books, a new backpack and age-appropriate school supplies. 

Before the Fair was established, a large number of students were excluded from schools because they failed to complete their health requirements. Today, medical and dental compliance rates in the Waukegan public schools, one of several school districts involved with the Fair, are close to 100 percent.

 Thomas Bleck - Kids Fair 

Pictured: Dr. Thomas Bleck of Wadsworth performs a free dental exam on a student.


Permanent link  New law promotes dental homes for kids


Under a new law passed Aug. 9, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the dental community will develop and promote dental homes for children covered under CHIP, All Kids and Medicaid programs. This law is a key initiative of the Bridge to Healthy Smiles Coalition


Dental home initiative. The Department, in cooperation with the dental community and other affected organizations such as Head Start, shall work to develop and promote the concept of a dental home for children covered under this Act. Included in this dental home outreach should be an effort to ensure an ongoing relationship between the patient and the dentist with an effort to provide comprehensive, coordinated, oral health care so that all children covered under this Act have access to preventative and restorative oral health care.


The law builds on a national campaign by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to address the dental needs of children by creating partnerships with dentists and related organizations. Dentists will collaborate to deliver comprehensive, coordinated and family-centered preventive and restorative oral health care services.

The Bridge to Healthy Smiles coalition has been successful in gaining the attention of state legislators and spearheaded the passage of legislation that will improve access to oral health throughout Illinois.  BTHS established a process to award grants for dental clinic development and secured $2 million in state funds and $1 million in Cook County funds to open dental clinics in underserved areas. 

Other legislation offers oral healthcare providers incentives to treat the underserved.  These include a student loan compensation program and deferred compensation program, and a policy change that allows dentists to volunteer at clinics without being registered with Medicaid. BTHS has had much success with coalition members and continues to work in Cook County.


access to care , children , dental care , dental news , Illinois , pediatric dentistry , state of illinois ,