“The purpose of life is …. to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Those words, written more than a century ago by the philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, encapsulate the life and legacy of Mark J. Feldman, DMD, past ADA president and treasurer and executive director of the New York State Dental Association.
Dr. Feldman died on November 25 surrounded by his family following a long illness.
It’s never easy saying goodbye to a friend and mentor, no matter how well prepared we think we are. The feelings of profound sadness and loss are compounded when added to many years of experiences shared, challenges met, campaigns waged, policies developed and relationships nurtured. Without exception, everybody who had the privilege of having known and worked with Mark can attest to his many qualities, not the least of which was his sheer humanity. Mark was a natural born leader, but so too was he a true friend and mentor.
“We all turned to Mark for his guidance and unparalleled knowledge of dentistry’s past, present and future,” states NYSDA President Dr. Kevin Henner. “And in return, each of us received the gifts of his compassion, empathy and thoughtfulness. He never failed to offer words of encouragement when needed most.”
The highlights of Mark’s illustrious career in organized dentistry could be documented by pages upon pages of bulleted resume points, outlining his ascendancy from service on insurance committees to the pinnacle of dental leadership, ADA President. To be sure, those things are black and white reminders of professional excellence, but they pale in comparison to the examples of the real life action leading to solutions that Mark was able to make happen. Ever an effective change agent, Mark was instrumental in so many of dentistry’s paramount achievements, including most recently guiding NYSDA through the perils of the COVID epidemic. Because of his leadership, and the deep respect given him by state and national policymakers, dentistry was at the forefront of negotiations to resume practice.
In explaining Mark’s ability to integrate legislative policy with what made the most sense for the dental profession and, to a greater extent, the greater public good, Dr. G. Kirk Gleason, chair of the NYS Dental Foundation and a longtime friend and colleague, says “Mark always had a clear vision as to what should be done and what was the right way to do it. He understood the balance between the science, everyday practice, administration and the politics to help us all achieve what was best for our members and for the oral health of the public. He will be greatly missed by me, personally, and by dentistry.”
On an organizational level, Mark brought his great gift of statesmanship to guiding NYSDA through some painful growing pains, working tirelessly to garner and retain the trust and support of the membership. He was always available to discuss issues and answer questions, preferring a hands on approach where many in his executive capacity would prefer to delegate. People knew that when Mark spoke, his words meant something.
“He worked long hours, sometimes seven days a week, to advocate for our members and to ensure that they were well-informed,” relates NYSDA Immediate Past President Dr. Craig Ratner. “He managed his team of professionals with expert proficiency, and the results speak for themselves.”
But the greatest achievement in Mark’s life, one of which he was most proud, and understandably so, was his family – his wife of 51 years, Carol Schiff Feldman; two sons, Eric Feldman and Sean Feldman; and three granddaughters, Hope, Riley, and Mara. According to his sons, “As passionate as he was about dentistry, for him, family always came first. Before he retired from practice, he would make sure to get home for family dinner every night. Often he would race off to a meeting of the dental society right after, but time with us was his top priority. This ultimately led to his election as president of the ADA. While he was honored to be installed in the position, he left the convention where he was installed to fly cross-country to meet his first newborn granddaughter. The position of Pop Pop was the one he was proudest of.”
In his passing, dentistry has lost an icon and a legend. Truly, Dr. Mark J. Feldman lived life well, and we who are left behind to mourn his passing can also count among our blessings the fact that we knew him, worked with him, learned from him and, for so many, loved and respected him as the consummate professional and true friend that he was.
The NYS Dental Foundation and the entire dental community suffered a huge loss, with the passing on 11/25/21 of Dr. Mark J. Feldman.
Mark was an amazing individual who helped so many, in so many capacities, throughout his decades-long involvement in organized dentistry. For more than ten years, he lent his extraordinary abilities as a leader and statesman, immeasurably helping the Foundation to grow its mission of improving the oral health of all New Yorkers.
“There are no words to adequately express the sense of loss we all feel,” states NYSDF Chair Dr. G. Kirk Gleason. “Throughout the many years in which I had the great privilege to have worked with Mark, and to have been his friend, I was continuously impressed by his ability to cut through to the heart of any matter and to gain consensus on issues. In particular, I remember a time many years ago when some questioned the need for our Foundation to exist. Mark clearly and unequivocally stated, if NYSDA doesn’t support its charitable arm, what does that say about our profession? His ability to get to the heart of any matter was unparalleled.”
His passing leaves a great and irreplaceable void in the world, and he will be sorely missed.
The Foundation is now accepting applications, due 1 April 2022, for the 2023 GKAS awards, which will award up to $5,000 to organizations to enhance children’s oral health care.
Nominated programs must provide answers to how they are:
Once-a-year activities are NOT eligible for GKAS Award consideration.
GKAS Award recipients MUST include NYSDF logo and references in all promotional and press materials related to the activities for which they are receiving the GKAS Award. All recipients MUST submit a progress/update report, as described in NYSDF Grant Guidelines/Agreements, to the Foundation.
Continuing Education Some regulations restrict licensees to a certain percentage of self-study for continuing education requirements. In response to the evolving situation with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and for those licensees whose registrations are due to renew March 1, 2020 – July 1, 2022, the Department will grant an adjustment to all licensees to complete up to 100% of the continuing education as self-study, provided that it is taken from a Department-approved provider and is in an acceptable subject area for the specific profession.
Additionally, the Department will grant an adjustment to all licensees, regardless of registration renewal date, to utilize self-study for any coursework taken during the period from March 1, 2020 – July 1, 2022, provided that it is taken from a Department-approved provider and is in an acceptable subject area for the specific profession. Coursework taken outside that timeframe must meet the continuing education requirements in each individual profession’s laws and regulations.
NYSED is working closely with other New York State agencies and the Governor’s Office to tackle issues relating to COVID-19. Please continue to monitor the Department’s website for updated guidance.
NIDCR is pleased to announce a new dental public health research training program for dentists. The full-time, three-year fellowship on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, will equip dental professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to initiate and conduct impactful population-level oral health research that improves the well-being of individuals and communities.
“To achieve NIDCR’s goal of improving oral health for all, it is critical to develop and retain experts with the appropriate skills to conduct relevant oral health research in an increasingly complex environment,” says NIDCR Director Rena D’Souza. “By drawing from the unparalleled resources at NIH, this program will continue this institute’s rich history of supporting a diverse pipeline of critical thinkers and thought leaders for years to come.”
The fellowship includes a one-year residency in dental public health, followed by two years of mentored postdoctoral-level training, with the fellow able to choose from several important research areas related to oral health and to receive mentorship from NIDCR and non-NIDCR staff. Training is designed to fulfill the advanced dental education requirements for the specialty of dental public health, helping fellows to become eligible to challenge the American Board of Dental Public Health examination process for specialty certification in dental public health.
All application materials must be submitted by November 17, 2021. The full-time fellowship will begin in July of 2022. A stipend is available for eligible fellows and there is no tuition. To learn more about the program, including admissions requirements, application instructions, and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the Dental Public Health Research Fellowship page of our website.
New York State Dental Foundation administers program to assist dentists suffering from substance use disorder.
The New York State Dental Association, through its Board Committee on Substance Abuse & Well-Being, has aided hundreds of dentists whose professional careers, families and very lives are threatened by an insidious disease. The incidence of alcoholism and drug abuse among healthcare professionals is statistically higher than among the general population. Estimates suggest that addictive illness affects between 10 percent to 20 percent of all dentists. Because 80 percent of licensed dentists practice alone, most are isolated from other professionals, making it difficult to identify problems, particularly in the early stages, and to effectively intervene or monitor recovery.
Since 2009, the New York State Dental Foundation has administered the Dr. Thomas Sullivan Substance Abuse Grant Program, to provide financial assistance to individuals with substance use disorder who require in-patient medical treatment. These grants are designed to assist in the payment of initial treatment costs associated with in-patient services.
The New York State Dental Association has contracted with the New York State Dental Foundation, as its charitable subsidiary, to administer the Dr. Thomas Sullivan Substance Abuse Grant Program, and donated $15,000 to establish the program. As part of the arrangement, applications for this program will be screened by the Committee on Substance Abuse & Well-Being, whose chair will communicate to the Foundation a recommendation to approve or disapprove. The Foundation will decide whether the grant application will be approved. The program is open to all dentists in New York State. Dr. Robert Herzog, Committee Chair, explains the importance of the grant mechanism: “The effects of alcoholism and substance abuse result in immeasurable costs to the doctors, their patients and families. The safety of their patients is directly affected. But we know from experience that intervention and support can be the lifeline these individuals need to recover and continue to lead productive lives. Treatment facilities require proof of insurance or a down payment before they can accept a dentist for in-patient treatment. Too often, when the need for treatment is urgent, the dentist involved no longer has any financial resources or health benefits from which to draw.”
Tax-deductible contributions to the Dr. Thomas Sullivan Substance Abuse Grant Program can be made c/o the New York State Dental Foundation, 20 Corporate Woods Boulevard, Suite 602, Albany, NY 12211. All monies contributed to this account will be used solely for the purposes of assisting impaired dentists.
Dr. Thomas Sullivan Substance Abuse Grant Program: Key Facts
Eligibility: The purpose of the Dr. Thomas Sullivan Substance Abuse Grant Program is to provide financial assistance to individuals with substance use disorder who require in-patient medical treatment and lack the financial resources necessary to initiate treatment. These grants are designed to assist in the payment of medical costs involved with such in-patient services.
Any dentist who requires in-patient medical services to treat a substance use disorder may apply for assistance under this program if the dentist does not have access to independent financing or relevant medical coverage. Substance use disorder, for the purpose of this program, is defined as dependency upon alcohol and/or any addictive licit or illicit controlled substances. No monies are available for treatment costs associated exclusively with nicotine addictions.
Applications will be screened by the NYSDA Board Committee on Substance Abuse & Well-Being’s Peer Assistance Coordinator and Foundation staff. Any applicant for a grant must meet all criteria listed below:
1. An applicant must agree to complete treatment as prescribed by a physician and follow aftercare instructions.
2. The applicant must submit a cost estimate for the in-patient program detailing the extent of the charges and indicating the amount of the grant requested.
Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis evaluating the applicant's overall financial condition, availability of insurance coverage, and the applicant's available personal assets. The liquidity of the applicant's financial resources shall be considered by the Foundation in determining the extent of financial need.
Amount of Grant: The grant amount shall be determined by the Foundation on the recommendation of the Committee on Substance Abuse & Well-Being, but shall not exceed one-half the cost of the treatment or $5,000, whichever is less. The Committee shall be responsible for providing a statement of charges from the treatment facility to the Foundation. All such information shall be held in strict confidence by both the Committee and Foundation and shall be shared only between them for the sole purpose of administering the grant program.
NYS DOH is pleased to announce the availability of funding for Drinking Water Fluoridation – 2021 Solicitation of Interest # 18737 Round 1
The DDS program helps people with disabilities or who are elderly or medically fragile and cannot afford or otherwise access treatment for severe dental conditions. The Foundation has worked with DDS for many years to connect dentist volunteers with such individuals. This year, 95 patients statewide have been served by DDS – that’s $375,031 in treatment donated.