A Tipperary dentist, who provided compassionate treatment to a victim of domestic violence, has been name 'Dentist of the Year 2019'.
Dr Pádraig O'Reachtagáin has been running the Castle Street Dental Practice for 30 years and was nominated for the award by the woman he helped.
"Pádraig opened up his practice on a Saturday morning just to treat me at much expense to himself I am sure. He was caring, compassionate and also advised me on the avenues I could go down to get myself and my children into a much safer environment.
"I can't express how thankful I am. He not only repaired my tooth but showed me a way to get out of a violent situation. Myself and my children are now safe due to his care and understanding. He truly deserves this award," the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said.
Nominators receive a cash prize if the dentist they nominate wins. In this case, the woman had asked that in the event of her nominee winning, the €1,500 prize money should go to Women's Aid, the national organisation that helps women and children who are affected by domestic abuse.
The sponsors of the award, Colgate, said that they would match this donation.
Dr O'Reachtagáin said that after almost 40 years working in dentistry, he was "delighted" to win this award. However, he said the real heroine of this story "is the woman who nominated me".
"She took the courageous step to get herself and her children out of an abusive situation. If other victims of abuse are inspired by this woman's story and see that it is possible to get out of these situations, that will be a real result," he said.
He explained that in the 1980s, he worked in east London very close to a refuge for victims of domestic violence.
"From treating those women, I learned that domestic abuse and violence was a lot more prevalent then we all like to think. I also learned that it was an issue which, while shrouded in secrecy, affected women from all walks of life.
"I suppose that experience made me more aware of domestic violence as an issue in society. And that would be the other thing. If this story makes dentists, doctors and other health professionals more aware and informed of the issue, that would be a real positive," he said.
The President of the Irish Dental Association (IDA), Prof Leo Stassen, praised Dr O'Reachtagáin for his professional dedication and generosity of spirit.
"Pádraig displayed tremendous sensitivity and understanding of the physical and emotional needs of a patient in distress. After ensuring the patient had a secure and caring environment, he went on to provide her with excellent treatment and wise counsel.
"This enabled the mum and her children to escape from a dangerous situation. Her story, and indeed her own generosity in donating her prize to Women's Aid, will undoubtedly inspire others who find themselves in similar situations," he commented.
The IDA received over 1,000 nominations from dental patients nationwide for this year's awards, which were held at the Clayton Hotel in Dublin at the weekend.
Prof Stassen acknowledged that there was an interesting story behind every nomination.
"You have nervous patients, people with MS, people who've had accidents in remote locations, patients with suspicious looking lumps, people with Asperger's syndrome, young people living in direct provision, people with mental health issues and patients with shingles.
"Every patient and situation is different. The common denominator is the tremendously high standard of care they received, which reflects so well on our profession," he added.
*Pictured at the Dentist of the Year Awards is Dr Pádraig O'Reachtagáin
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