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Giving free dental care to Holocaust survivors

Valery Kats (right) is one of the Holocaust survivors who received free dental services from Dr. Michael Friedman.

BY: Mickey Goodman

The number of Holocaust survivors dwindles each year, but those still living continue to face hardships. One of their major issues is a lack of proper dental care, the result of sustained malnutrition during World War II, little or no treatment due to costs or even a fear of dentists.

To enhance their quality of life, Dr. Michael Friedman of My North Atlanta Dentist in Sandy Springs provides probono services to survivors referred through Jewish Family & Career Services. To date, he’s treated six survivors.

The program was developed by the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program, which expanded to Georgia in 2016. Friedman, a member of the dental fraternity, was among the first to sign up.

One of his patients, 78- year-old Valery Kats, was having difficulty eating due to broken and missing teeth. “Survivors like Mr. Kats, who was born in the Ukraine, received less than ideal dental care through the years,” says Friedman. “Those I’ve treated have needed everything from fillings and implants.”

For Friedman, it’s all about giving back. “The added bonus is that treating survivors has meant a lot to our team,” he says. “Some knew very little about the Holocaust and have taken a personal interest in the patients and their stories.”

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