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Dr. Shirley Zhao joins Kuhio Pediatric Dental

LIHU‘E — Staff at Kuhio Pediatric Dental, in the Kuhio Medical Center on Kuhio Highway across from Walmart, announced that Dr. Shirley Zhao has joined the practice.

The front office staff of Kuhio Pediatric Dental Ginger Hudson says she has only worked with Dr. Zhao for three months.

“I have only worked with Dr. Shirley since I was hired in October but I have to say she is the best doctor I have ever worked with,” said front-office worker Ginger Hudson.

“I worked for 10 years on the mainland for six radiation oncologists who were fine doctors but lacked the personal touch that Dr. Shirley has. She is a gem,” she said.

Zhao did not want to comment for this story.

“I feel really fortunate to work with a dentist who cares so much about her patients,” Hudson said. “Dr. Shirley is friendly and gentle with the children, and tries hard to put them at ease.

“She is great at teaching both the kids and the parents successful tooth care. She takes time to answer questions and take calls from parents when they have questions. That means a lot to families who are nervous and need reassurance that their children are in good hands,” she said.

When observing Zhao, Hudson said recently there was a 3-year-old new patient’s first visit. “(She) left our office and was heard telling her mom, ‘I love going to the dentist,’” Hudson said. “It is our hope that all our patients feel this way.”

Zhao is a board-certified pediatric dentist and a 2016 graduate of the Rutgers School of Medicine.

Hudson said Zhao completed two additional years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, teens and children with special needs while serving as chief resident at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, in 2018.

Normally in February, Kuhio Pediatric Dental celebrates Children’s Dental Hygiene Awareness Month. However, because of COVID-19 restrictions they will not be holding any special events this month.

“We look forward to being able to hold events in the future,” Hudson said. “We are passionate about the dental health of the island’s keiki.

Past events held by Kuhio Pediatric Dental include the state Department of Health and state Department of Education annual S.T.E.P Parent and Child Fair at Kukui Grove Center, the County of Kaua‘i Health &Wellness Fair at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort &Beach Club and the Kamehameha Schools Health Fair West for Kaua‘i preschools.

“Our team thoroughly enjoyed participating with our state, county and community health partners to deliver free dental-patient screenings and education to raise awareness on the importance of establishing good dental and oral hygiene health habits for our keiki,” Hudson said.

“We look forward to when we can safely gather as a community again, so in the meantime, we are using our creative energies aimed at maintaining patient engagement and education. Stay tuned.”

According to Hudson, Zhao loves to connect with her patients and build meaningful, lifelong relationships.

“Despite being serious about fighting cavities, Dr. Shirley strives to add a little fun to each child’s dental experience,” Hudson said. “She is a proponent of preventative dental care, and likes to share her energetic, upbeat personality.”

When Zhao is not helping out the keiki, in her free time she can be found snorkeling, playing volleyball, tennis and dancing, among other activities.

Like many businesses, Kuhio Pediatric Dental has seen a drop in business as parents try to cope and adjust to job losses and rotating school schedules, said Marydith Jaurequi, human resource director for Kuhio Pediatric Dental and Hawaiian Island Dental.

“We do everything we can to be flexible and meet the needs of our families, because they are like family to us,” Jaurequi said. “We are, after all, known as the ‘Little Office with the Big Heart.’”

Jaurequi said over the past year the practice has focused on implementing best practices and policies to provide a safe environment for patients and team members during the pandemic.

According to Jaurequi, some of these policies include: Patient and employee temperature checks, COVID-19 screening questions, elevated personal protective equipment requirements for team members and mask requirements for patients and their parents/caregivers, social distancing, cleaning and sanitation.

“To ensure further trust with our patients and the community, our staff has completed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations,” Jaurequi said.

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Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or
Source: The Garden Island

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