Letters: Tribute to Dr. Allen Hefner
To the editor:
Picture this: a skinny little 6-year-old girl at the dentist's office for the first time. Her mother gently positions her in the examination chair. The trembling girl looks around and squints at the bright, odd-shaped light shining in her eyes. Stainless steel trays with sharp instruments seem to surround the chair. She spies a hypodermic needle when the dentist brusquely enters. He offers no smile or greeting. He barks, "Front tooth is abscessed and has to be pulled. Now open your mouth." Tears flow down as her face as she asks, "May I have a drink of water first?" "No, you'll get a drink of water after that tooth comes out." Manhandling her face, he yanks out the tooth, crams gauze in its place to stop the bleeding, fills a tiny paper cup with water and sloshes it to her hand.
My mother vowed to never take me back to that dentist, but the day came that I needed to see a dentist again. A young dentist had recently moved to a small office in Hudson, so we made an appointment. I was a bit older but no braver. I found myself once again in a reclining chair and sterile atmosphere. I noticed a painting of an adorable little boy saluting. I wondered whether it was a replica of John F. Kennedy's son saluting the flag at his father's funeral procession. I managed to grin when I read a sign on the door that said, "Escape while there's still time."
Then the dentist came in and greeted me with a beautiful smile. He was tall and quite handsome in his white jacket. He was calm and soft-spoken. "Well, let's have a look at those teeth. It won't hurt at all." He gently examined the teeth and cleaned them, explaining all the while what he was doing. "You're doing just fine now," he reassured me. I got all the water I wanted throughout the cleaning process. He would say, "Now, rinse that gritty taste out of your mouth." After helping me out of the chair, he walked me back to my mother, giving me a new toothbrush and any gift I wanted from the treat box.
That was the first visit, with years of visits to follow.
Thanks to Dr. Allen Hefner, I, along with hundreds of other patients, no longer fear the dentist visits (as much).
Audrey (Richards) Setzer
* * *
To the editor:
I would like to add to this precious tribute to Dr. Allen Hefner because I was an employee of his for 47 years.
Dr. Hefner was in practice in the Hudson/Lenoir area for 52 years, and due to failing health he retired this past December. After a few short months of retirement he is now at Shaire Center due to a couple of strokes.
He made many friends during his working years. He showed utmost kindness and respect to his patients.
I feel so blessed to have had the privilege to be his employee all those years because it never seemed to be a job. It was more of a joy to work for him, he was so kind to his employees through the years of his practice.
Thanks, Dr. Hefner, for my wonderful journey working for you.
I have also since retired but miss Dr. Hefner, his wife, and Alice Harris, who worked for him for 23 years, and all the special patients/friends I became acquainted with during this time.
So, "hats off" to the best boss ever!