This past March, our city experienced a profound loss as Dr. Lyndon Campbell of Athens Dental Services suffered a stroke and died suddenly. There are no words to describe what a difficult spring this has been for his family, friends, and his staff. And, just as importantly, each would say that the grace of God has been upon them all, and in their own way, and at their own pace, they are moving forward.
The focus of this article is the staff of Athens Dental Services. At times, they have had to deliver the bad news to some of their patients who had not heard that Dr. Campbell had passed away, and had come in for an appointment. “That has been tough,” said Sandra Casteel, the ADS office manager. Sandra has worked at ADS for 14 years, and has known Dr. Campbell since she was a teenager. For her part, Dr. Campbell said goodbye on a Thursday afternoon, and the last thing he said to them was, “See you on Monday.” The Monday to which he was referring never came, and the staff has come together with a determination to go forward and still provide the people of Athens with outstanding dental care.
“Not one staff member has lost their job, and we are seeing patients just as we always have,” Sandra said. Dr. Tregoning added, “Our focus is to provide the best possible care for our patients. Everyone has been patient with us in accommodating their appointments. After a traumatic time like this, it is not time to make major decisions. We may look at bringing in another doctor some time in the future.”
“Dr. Campbell saw this as a ministry, and we want to continue on with his legacy,” Sandra continued. She chuckled as she told me that sometimes they’d be running behind because he’d be praying with a patient. “He wanted to treat the whole patient, body, soul and spirit, and we do, too.”
In recent years, Dr. Campbell received training to provide a solution for obstructive sleep apnea that involved the wearing of a dental device, rather than using a C-PAP machine. It became one of his most important professional efforts to serve the community. Dr. Tregoning has gone ahead and received the same training, so there are no gaps in service.
In addition, ADS is still offering “Six Month Smiles.” This is a program that involves using bands and brackets, does not correct overbites, but only focuses on straightening the teeth. They will also continue to offer root canals, extractions, cleanings, fillings, crowns and dentures.
One of the things planned by the staff to preserve Dr. Campbell’s legacy is a shadow box that is going to be mounted on the wall behind the reception desk. The shadow box is going to contain his lab coat, his loupes (the special glasses used to examine a patient’s mouth,) his photo and a brief bio. Perhaps there will be some wall words that would include the years of his life, i.e., 1953-2013. Dr. Tregoning and Dr. Campbell were in partnership for more than 18 years, and were dear friends. There was one thing that Dr. Tregoning wanted to have as a cherished memento, and that was the well-used, dog eared copy of My Utmost For His Highest, the devotional classic written by Oswald Chambers that belonged to Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell’s wife, Rita, gave it to him.
The Athens Dental Service logo was designed by Rita, who has been an art teacher and is as well an award winning artist. “She wanted the cross to be in the logo,” said Sandra. That is an excellent way to describe the care and faith that has gone into everything from the way the clinic is run to the redecorating of the lobby completed a few years ago. Rita wanted the waiting area to be well appointed and a place of relaxed comfort for ADS patients, and she did a beautiful job. Going to the dentist is rarely fun for anyone, and the beauty of the lobby must surely help one to relax while waiting.
So, what is ahead for Athens Dental Service while they heal, and continue to offer healing to their patients? For one thing, it is possible that the X ray films of days gone by are going to be replaced with digital X rays. As the art and science of dentistry continues to evolve, ADS will move with it, and continue to offer exceptional care to all their patients. Dr. Campbell may be gone to heaven, and we will continue to deeply miss him, but his faithful staff will continue to shine, and we can all take comfort in that.