Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery: Dedication to Reach a Community

Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery, from left to right: Dr D Graham Lee, Dr Edward Strauss, Dr A Drane Oliphant, and Dr Aaron P Sarathy

During a crisis, individuals and organizations have a choice of how they will react. It is an easy option to emotionally and physically shut down over situations that cannot be controlled. However, the other choice is to become a leader.

The coronavirus has defined so many of our local businesses and individuals. When faced with the decision of how to react to the pandemic, Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery chose to implement a community-centered business model, and the results were immeasurable.

First, of course, the surgeons and directors took a hard look at their business and questioned whether they should take the risk and remain open during an international pandemic. The team surveyed the metrics that were provided at the time by the American Dental Association and the CDC, and they made a unified decision to help their local community and assist those in need.

The staff and team put into operation extreme safety procedures that would limit the chance of virus exposure to the staff and patients. They offered virtual visits, diagnosing a patient from the comfort of his or her own home. Schedulers required patients to register their information online, and, upon arrival, every patient was asked to remain in their automobile until the time of the set appointment to promote social distancing measures.

The staff was provided with proper protective equipment and rooms were cleaned with medical-grade cleaner after every appointment. Every detail was considered, down to pens in the office.

Patients were overjoyed and relieved with the decision to remain open when stakes were high.

Staff at Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery.

“I was in extreme pain, and I was frightened for my health and safety. I did not want to enter an emergency room and expose myself to the virus,” said patient Alice Thornberg. “Once I discovered that Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery remained open and that they were taking extreme precautions, I was relieved. My surgery went without a hitch, and I was overjoyed to be out of pain and with a new implant.”

The positive reaction from the community spurred the employees of COAFS to create more ways to give back. The practice teamed up with renowned author and life coach Kim Johnson to host a webinar series. The director team shifted all marketing efforts toward finding ways that would promote local philanthropy and help those most isolated.

These efforts included the creation of “Adopt a Senior.” Teaming up with Sandpiper Senior Living, COAFS delivered essential items to seniors who were homebound or going through a difficult time.

Many community seniors felt the negative effects of the virus and its necessary isolation. One of the enduring stories encountered was that of Jay and Liz.

Jay’s wife Liz was in hospice, and, because of the coronavirus, he was not allowed to visit her. They missed each other terribly, and the staff hoped they would be reunited. COAFS and “Adopt a Senior” helped Jay not feel so alone during that time. A basket of quarantine goodies — word puzzles, snacks, soap, socks and more — lifted his spirits. Happily, Jay and Liz celebrated 65 years of marriage the week after a visit could be permitted.

The staff also ran a canned food drive for the East Cooper Community Outreach Center and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, delivering more than 250 items to local food banks. They also collected and delivered pet supplies to local animal shelters.

Additionally, the surgeons delivered material to create first-responder masks to the Thrive Charleston Mask Force and arranged to provide lunch at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant. They made it a priority to thank every ER doctor, nurse, administrative member, cleaning crew member and anyone else who bravely served.

In a time when so many businesses could be reactive, Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery chose to be proactive and go above and beyond in remarkable fashion.

For more information about Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery, call 843-762-9028, or visit them online at

By Jenn Cady

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