From patient to dentist: Success at one local public health clinic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - At Cabot Westside Medical and Dental Center, it's not uncommon to see doctors consulting in the hallways. Dr. Alberto Varela started there just after graduating last spring.

"It was just a great opportunity because I so happened to be a patient here several years ago," he said.

Varela went to the clinic as a child, and as an adult, Dr. Tim Little was his physician.

"And then he came back as one of our dentists and has been a great addition to the staff," Little said.

Cabot has been a  part of the west side neighborhood since 1906. Now it serves nearly 8,000 patients, most of them women and children. Many are low income and uninsured, and almost all of them speak little English.

The bilingual staff at the clinic makes treatment more effective.

"It helps as far as our health care because you do better care if you're actually speaking straight to the person rather than through an interpreter," Little explained. "And also, it helps just for them to be more comfortable, feel more at home and trust the person they're seeing."

Which makes having Varela there important for more reasons than cleaning teeth and filling cavities.

"It's really kind of a full circle sort of thing obviously and it's a real nice example to the kids that come and see him -- they can see someone from the community someone who was a patient here who really made it," Little said.

Varela said he returning here to serve as a blessing.

"To be able to come into a place where I was very comfortable, and knew the people and be able to give back to the community" is wonderful, he said.

Cabot Westside is having its 2nd annual "Cinco de Cabot" fundraiser May 3. The event at the Power and Light District will feature Sugar Ray and the local band Aztlan. For more information, go to http://bit.ly/17K2kz9

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