Many more Shoah survivors to receive dental care

Major donation to non-profit organization Yad Sarah's Geriatric Dental Clinic will be of great help to those in need.

Hundreds of elderly Holocaust survivors are set to benefit from a generous donation to the Jerusalem-based non-profit organization Yad Sarah for its Geriatric Dental Clinic, which currently serves 150 to 200 survivors each year,The Jerusalem Post was told Sunday.
A French foundation for Holocaust survivors, Fondation Pour la Memoire de la Shoah, pinpointed the need for subsidized or complimentary dental care for the survivors, who receive minimal benefits from the Israeli government and often must choose between medical care and food on a daily basis.
“Holocaust survivors do not receive specific help with dental care,” commented Dr. Sarit Palmon, a prosthodontics specialist and director of the clinic, adding that financial aid handed out to survivors by the government is very low and is only enough for basic treatments.
“Most survivors must make a choice – either glasses or dental care or hearing equipment.
They need to decide what they need more,” she said.
According to Palmon, the Yad Sarah Geriatric Dental Clinic assists up to 1,000 elderly people a year countrywide, with roughly 20 percent being Holocaust survivors. Now it is hoped that more will turn to the clinic for help.
While the main clinic is based in the capital and is operated by more than 40 volunteer dentists, the nonprofit organization also runs a mobile dental unit in Jerusalem, Modi’in, Beersheba, Ashdod, Haifa, Kfar Saba and Kiryat Motzkin for those too frail to make the journey.
“We have Holocaust victims come to us with practically no teeth left because they did not receive treatment for many years,” noted Palmon, highlighting that while those recognized by the government as survivors receive financial benefits, a team of social workers is tasked with assessing the background of other applicants who suffered during World War II but who are not recognized by the state.
“The treatment we provide includes everything from basic dentistry to hygienist care, root treatments and more,” she said, estimating that each survivor will be eligible for up to €1,200 per person for treatments with the new injection of funds.
“This is a serious amount of money and it is really going to help. I hope that more people will come to us and benefit from this,” added Palmon.
In addition to the dental clinic, the funding will also enable hundreds of elderly survivors to be fitted with an emergency button connected to Yad Sarah’s mainframe emergency services. The button, which is already used by some 18,500 elderly people, allows those in distress direct access to emergency response teams.
Last April, the government took steps to increase the flow of aid, including medical benefits, to Holocaust survivors but many survivors here still struggle financially.
Non-profit agencies working with Holocaust survivors here estimate that one-third of the roughly 270,000 survivors live below the poverty line and struggle to survive on a state pension.