American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD) Diplomates come from many diverse backgrounds and enrich pediatric dentistry through their perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds. ABPD is committed to nurturing an environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive for all. Amongst ABPD Diplomates are leaders who have been exemplary in addressing the complex issues pertaining to DEI within their practice and in the broader community. ABPD Diplomates continually highlight that it is indeed feasible to elevate equity, activate diversity, and lead inclusively. ABPD’s DEI committee has the honor to introduce Dr. Hani Eid and spotlight his ongoing volunteerism to elevate oral health for children who are refugees after the war in Syria.
Dr. Hani Eid, a diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, is in private practice in Longview, Washington. Dr. Eid graduated from dental school in Damascus, Syria. While in dental school, Dr. Eid was most influenced by his faculty in pediatric dentistry and decided to specialize in pediatric dentistry in the US. His ambition to become a pediatric dentist came to fruition at Tufts University. To this day, Dr. Eid is thankful to his program director, Dr. George White, who in Dr. Eid’s words, “took a chance on me”.
Dr. Eid’s father was a writer for Damascus television, his mother was a schoolteacher, and both his brothers are physicians. His wife, Dr. Hazar Jaber, is also a dentist and holds an MBA in healthcare. Dr. Eid and Dr. Jaber are loving parents to three boys aged 11, 17, and 20. Their oldest son has special healthcare needs (SHCN), and they recently celebrated his high school graduation.
Dr. Eid graduated as a pediatric dentist in 2002 and was a faculty member at Oregon Health Science University, Portland for two years. He then bought a four-chair pediatric practice in Longview, Washington serving a predominantly underserved low-income population. He was overwhelmed by how welcoming the community was to him and decided to invest more in serving this endearing community. He has grown the original practice to a 12-chair facility. With his business partners, he now has four practices in the area where Dr. Eid, his associates, and 90 employees provide patient care. He credits Dr. Jaber for being the CEO of his practices and managing the business so that he can focus on patient care.
Dr. Eid has been a champion for the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program in Cowlitz County in Washington state for 18 years. In addition to serving infants and preschool children through the ABCD program, he also provides education and training to general dentists and pediatricians on the prevention of early childhood caries. He is also part of the Advanced Leadership Institute of Wharton School where he is a member of the workgroup that is drafting policy to improve access to and reduce disparity in oral healthcare for children who are recipients of Medicaid.
It seemed that Dr Eid’s private practice and professional growth were centered in Longview. However, there was a tumultuous geopolitical event that tugged at Dr. Eid’s heart to give back to his country of origin. In March 2011, a civil war broke out in Syria and mass casualties from warfare led families to flee to neighboring countries. One such Syrian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan came to Dr. Eid’s attention. Through the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Dr. Eid started volunteering time and services to the Syrian refugees in Amman. Initially, he provided oral hygiene supplies, applied silver diamine fluoride (SDF), and provided palliative care for the children in the refugee camps. However, the stark need for dental treatment became apparent to Dr. Eid rather quickly.
In a short time, Dr. Eid established a process to be able to provide definitive and comprehensive dental care for the children in these refugee camps. On one hand, was the process to screen and triage patients and on the other hand, the networking and negotiations needed to provide comprehensive dental treatment in local hospitals in Amman. Dr Jaber, who is Dr Eid’s partner in every sense of the word, worked with the SAMS team in Jordan who then negotiated with the hospitals in Amman to build this relationship. Thanks to their efforts, there are now two hospitals in Amman where children who are Syrian refugees can receive comprehensive dental care. Dr. Eid has also engaged general dentists from two dental schools in Amman to help in this process.
Over a week-long mission trip, Dr. Eid and other volunteers provide definitive dental treatment for over 100 children at the hospitals. Dr. Eid helps conduct fundraisers, recruits volunteers from the dental profession, and donates dental supplies to make this possible. Dr. Eid has been providing this service for Syrian children for nine years and is sad to have been unable to provide his services in 2021 when travel was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To put the magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis in perspective, there are over one million Syrian refugees in Jordan, half of whom are children and the majority living below the poverty line without access to healthcare. Dr. Eid says that once a child has received dental treatment through SAMS, it is unlikely that she/ he will see a dentist for another three to four years.
In the refugee camps. Dr. Eid also noticed that there were many children with SHCN. Not only were their oral health needs unmet, but their medical and educational needs were also unmet. This really hit home for Dr. Eid, as he reflected on the educational services his own oldest son was receiving in Longview. Dr. Eid has now been raising awareness in the refugee camps for educational services for children with SHCN. He feels very passionately that children with SHCN in the refugee camps should be engaged in learning and developing psychomotor skills. He is also trying to coordinate medical services, medications, and medical devices for children with SHCN in the refugee camps. Dr. Eid specifically recounted the story of a 4-year-old child who could not receive dental treatment at the hospital because his blood glucose level was over 600 mg/dl. The family did not have any means of monitoring, and thus, regulating his blood sugar levels. Through endocrinologists who are part of the SAMS network, Dr. Eid was able to get glucometers and glucose strips sponsored for diabetic children in the refugee camps.
The volunteer work evokes mixed emotions in Dr. Eid. He feels happy and thankful to be able to provide care for children through a lot of organized processes. But naturally, he also says that he feels anger and sadness that war and conflict have led children to endure such hardships. He traverses these mixed emotions by keeping in mind that he wants to be able to provide care for all children, whether they be in Longview, WA, or Amman, Jordan. He says that his circle of caring is comprised of concentric rings, starting with his own family and extending to his work family, his community in Washington, and the more global family.
Dr. Eid envisions recruiting more dentists to volunteer for SAMS and to start recruiting specialists such as craniofacial surgeons and oral surgeons to meet the needs of patients in the refugee camps. Dr. Jaber serves on the SAMS’ executive board and helps SAMS as well as Dr. Eid in the multitude of administrative roles needed for the success of the mission. In the future, Dr. Eid hopes to continue to enlarge the circle of caring and elevate oral health for children in disadvantaged communities.
The ABPD DEI Committee (Drs Toddrick Smith, Thomas Tanbonliong, and Priyanshi Ritwik) welcomes your nominations and ideas for future Diplomate Spotlights. Please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. This Diplomate Spotlight was penned by Priyanshi Ritwik.