Pennsylvania oral surgeon believes many hands make light work

Loyalty to a friend drew Steven Moriconi, DMD, F.A.C.D, F.I.C.D., to Haiti in 2010 after a natural disaster devastated the people there. The profound need he witnessed prompted six return trips in the past five years and the founding of Men Anpil , which means “many hands” in Haitian Creole.

“I first traveled to Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake. Because I felt a certain loyalty to my best friend from college who is Haitian, I wanted to go to honor his people with my much needed skills, as well as to get out of my own professional comfort zone,” said the board certified oral surgeon who, when not volunteering his talents in Haiti, leads as chief of the dental division at Abington Memorial Hospital in the bustling Philadelphia suburbs.

“I knew from the very first time I pulled a tooth from a grateful patient in a triage tent with no suction, no light, and no assistance, that I was making a difference in a world that sorely needed it.”

During his time there, Dr. Moriconi, 62, met a number of young Haitian medical and dental students whose education had been interrupted by the destruction of their schools. Fortunately for those students, this visiting humanitarian possessed a commitment to education, as well as unique leadership skills.

(At 34, when he was only three years out of his own training program, Dr. Moriconi assumed the directorship of the Abington Hospital general practice residency program where he acts as a teacher and guide still today.)

To help the Haitian students achieve their goals, has brought other dental health professionals and translators. Among them, his main colleague, Dr. Angela Stout, a pediatric dentist who has accompanied on the last six trips.

Dr Angel Stout treating a child
Dr. Angel Stout, a pediatric dentist who has accompanied Dr. Moriconi on the last six trips to Haiti, sees in excess of 70 children per week.

Over this time, they have given in excess of a quarter million dollars in time, supplies, and renovations to the dental clinic they support.

To put it in perspective, during a typical week:

  • Dr. Moriconi sees about 40 surgical patients
  • Dr. Moriconi removes close to 100 impacted teeth.
  • Dr. Moriconi biopsies, treats infections, and assesses patients with significant tumors requiring treatment in the U.S. (Dr. Moriconi has thus far brought three of the patients here for surgery).
  • Dr. Stout sees in excess of 70 children per week and performs comprehensive oral rehabilitation on them.

One stumbling block along the way: the challenge of gathering enough supplies and equipment. Dr. Moriconi thanked Benco Dental, the largest privately owned dental distribution company, that he said over the years, has supported with not only supplies for every mission, but with technical help on two different trips. He refers to Master Service Technician Juan Santoyo, who Benco Dental sponsored for a humanitarian effort two years ago and again this past November.

Juan with the kids
Benco Dental Master Service Technician Juan Santoyo, shown, accompanied Dr. Moriconi two years ago on a mission trip and again in November of this year. When not dedicating his efforts to repair of vital dental equipment, Juan delivered smiles to the young patients.

“I am excited to go,” said Juan, prior to the recent visit.

For the full story of their efforts in Haiti, Dr. Moriconi directs readers to their website: menanpil.net. According to Dr. Moriconi, all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed as they are 501 (c) 3 corporation. All donations go directly to the purchase of supplies and support for their missions. To donate:  http://www.menanpil.net/donate/

“I wanted to be a health care professional since I was young. I was never sure what field, but dentistry and ultimately oral surgery has fit well with my goals to serve the public, find fulfillment in good work, and be of assistance to those in need of my services,” said the Glenside resident.

“It is a platitude, but life is short, and the older I get the more I feel as though I am running out of time. I try to make the best of this wonderful life I am grateful to have.”

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