Bringing Smiles Back to Patients

Sheran Boddie, a New Jersey native, recently received her dentures from the dental care team at Henry J. Austin Health Center (HJAHC) and can be seen everywhere, smiling from ear to ear. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, she has been a gratified patient at HJAHC. Sheran, 71, is also a mother, sister, poet, and above all, a resilient survivor.

“My mother said I weighed four pounds and three ounces. And they didn’t have everything they have now for survival. Yeah, so I have survived ever since,” she explains.

Sheran was diagnosed with lupus and has been in remission for 30 years. She suffered a stroke, palsy of the eye, and was in a coma for ten days. Some years later, she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, spreading to all her organs below the navel. This required her to have emergency drainage of two liters of bodily fluids, removal of one ovary, and a prescription for approximately twenty pharmaceutical drugs. She received neither health care nor childcare support from her late ex-husband, and back then, few health facilities in Mercer County were able to help her.

To this day, Sheran describes her life as a J.O.B.: the J stands for Journey, the O for Opportunity, and the B for Blessing.

Two years ago, she came to another major predicament. Her Medicare did not provide a dental plan, and Sheran was scared to go anywhere in Trenton and stand in lines outside. She heard of people waking up at six o’clock in the morning, only for a couple of people to be seen by the doctor.

“I had a toothache. What am I going to do? I had gone up to the University of Rutgers Dental School, but they could not take me. And I was like, No, I can’t come back here anymore. I don’t know where I’m going to go. I can’t afford it. I don’t know what to do. You know, it was an eye-opener. I came into contact with a nurse who told me about Henry. J. She said you could park in the back. I would have easy access with my handicap card. You don’t have to park on the street. And that’s what happened. And everybody’s so nice. Oh, my goodness. Jennifer. Dr. Moten. All the nurses. Linda, the receptionist. Everyone.”

HJAHC believes Sheran, and every patient, are best served with integrity and respect, which fosters healthy therapeutic relationships that promote healing. Additionally, patients are met with compassion in responding with kindness and sensitivity to the vulnerability and suffering of others who may be experiencing frightening changes in their lives, with the threat of losing their autonomy, dignity, control over their bodies, and the direction of their future lives.

Sheran has never stopped living. She is a passionate poet. At all times, she carries around a notebook in her purse full of either new pieces or pieces that she has practiced for decades. She talks about her life, family, and home in her poetry. Sheran has performed all over, including venues in Atlanta. This summer, she will appear in a senior art show at the Mercer County College conference center.

To anyone thinking of going HJAHC family to receive care, Sheran exclaimed, “Oh, just go. They see me; they know me. They know my history. You know, I’m just blessed. blessed to be here, really. I’m so serious, blessed to be here.”

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