Michael and Marian Patricoski
“I graduated from dental school, University of Illinois at the medical center in Chicago in 1982. I set my dental practice up from scratch. My wife, Marian, has been the front desk person and assistant from the beginning.
“I love doing dentistry. I like working with patients. I feel privileged that people would let me into their lives to let me help take care of them. We have shared many joys and sorrows with our patients since we’ve been in practice and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
“We applied for and got one of the PPP loans, which helps to cover some salary and some utilities. [It does] nothing as far as covering property taxes for the office space we have. We have about 1,500 square feet for office space in Cook County. Property taxes are north of $13,000 for the year.
“I believe that if they impose the progressive tax you will see even more people leave the state. I think that the Senate and House have not done their work at living within their means. You could never run a business as the state runs using our money. They think it is an unending wallet upon which they can draw money from. You cannot continue to outspend your revenue. They have no fiscal responsibility. So, giving them the opportunity to tax and take more money, they [wouldn’t] take care of past problems.
“We live a pretty simple life. We live well within our means. We’re not in any great discomfort. My concern is for patients going forward and for staff.
“Will we be able to continue to work and still be able to pay all the bills with the restrictions that are being put forth? Are we going to drive up the cost of dentistry so much that it now becomes less affordable for people? I’m a small practice. I do not have a hygienist. I do all the dental work, so we know all of our patients very well.”
“In some cases, we’re taking care of three or four generations of the family at the same time. It’s a nice thing after almost 38 years of practice when you can see the little kids you saw, who are now parents themselves bringing their children. It’s a great compliment and a real humbling honor to do that.
“We see 5% of the people that we’ve seen in the past [because of COVID-19]. In six or seven weeks we saw 11 patients, when we used to see 50 or 60 a week.
“A couple weeks ago everyone was finger-pointing and saying, ‘Well, I didn’t say the dental office needs to close…” The point being since about mid-March until now we’ve been told that we can only take care of patients with emergencies. As of May 1, the doctors have a little more latitude but are still limited.
“As of March, the state of Illinois [had] a 420-day delay in paying retiree patient dental claims for the State Universities Retirement System. The other day I called back and they said, ‘We’re very sorry but there’s just no funds, no claims are going to be paid. There’s a complete hold on payment.’ Now not just SURS, but all state employer, group or program dental claims [in Delta Dental’s system] are on hold and will not be paid.
“I called different [government] offices and said, ‘I’ve got this 420-day delay for SURS. I just want to know, when are we going to get funding on this? What’s going to happen?’ Only Central Management Services [replied]. It was almost as if they said, ‘I don’t know when you’re going to be paid … Why don’t you just go away?’
“I thought, ‘Well, now they’re just warming up for the November [referendum] in which they’ll use this as the hammer to beat everyone and say, ‘See, we can’t pay our health care bills and medical [costs]. We need more money.’
“When you see people year in and year out and go through generations of families [and are] with them for many years, these patients become an extension of your family. They’re beyond friends. They’re family.”
Michael T. Patricoski, D.D.S., F.A.G.D.
Marian Patricoski, dental office manager
Palos Heights, Illinois
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