Lisa DeLucia, DDS ’04 was among six local healthcare professionals to receive the Golisano Foundation’s 2012 Leadership Award for Exemplary Healthcare Services at a special luncheon in Rochester, N.Y.
DeLucia was honored by the Foundation for “extraordinary work to improve healthcare and access to care for people with intellectual disabilities,” according to its website. DeLucia is a dentist in private practice in Webster, N.Y., and teaches pediatric dentistry residents the Eastman Institute for Oral Health.
Tim Shriver, CEO of Special Olympics International, was a featured speaker at the luncheon. The Foundation notes: “All of this year’s honorees have served as Clinical Directors for Special Olympics, providing care to athletes at health screenings that are part of the Healthy Athletes program.”
DeLucia earned a B.S. in biology and public policy studies magna cum laude from William Smith College. As a student, she was a member of the Laurel Society and inducted into both Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, the international scientific research society for science and engineering. DeLucia received a Grant-In-Aid from Sigma Xi to fund her honors thesis on frog eyes, for which she received high honors. She also participated in the semester in Copenhagen program. She earned her DDS from the University of Buffalo Dental School.
As a recipient of the Golisano Foundation Leadership Award for Exemplary Health Care Services, DeLucia received a Tiffany crystal award. Additionally, the Golisano Foundation made a $5,000 donation in her name to a charity of her choice that helps people with intellectual disabilities.
More information about the award is available online.
The full profile of DeLucia as it appears on the Golisano Foundation’s website follows.
Golisano Foundation 2012 Healthcare Leadership Award Winner Lisa DeLucia, DDS (Special Smiles)
Lisa DeLucia was so attracted to a summer internship opportunity during college, that when she applied to the program and wasn’t accepted, she asked if she could still participate without stipend. She was told yes, and it was that experience, studying children with autism who were on a special diet and shadowing neurodevelopment pediatrician Dr. Susan Hyman, that first sparked her interest in caring for patients with developmental disabilities.
While earning her DDS, magna cum laude, at University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, Lisa received guidance from Dr. Steve Perlman, founder of the Healthy Athletes Special Smiles program, in channeling her interests in developmental disabilities into the career field of pediatric dentistry. During her time at dental school, Lisa published research about dental students’ perceptions and attitudes toward providing dental care to people with developmental disabilities, and how they were influenced through classroom instruction and hands-on experiences. She was also very involved in the Special Olympics Special Smiles events as a student organizer, recruiter and volunteer screener, and continues her volunteer work with the organization today.
Dr. DeLucia then completed a pediatric dentistry residency at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and an active member of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, among others. She returned to her native Rochester to complete the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship, which allowed her to gain additional experience in care for people with developmental disabilities, especially with policy issues affecting their access to health care.
Since then, she’s been a staunch advocate by not only treating patients with intellectual disabilities, but also by educating other providers in order to increase their comfort level in caring for and awareness of this severely underserved population. She led a group charged with gaining provider input about serving this population for the recently formed Community Task Force on Oral Health for People with Developmental Disabilities.
Dr. DeLucia, who finds that caring for this population brings both challenges and enormous rewards, reminds other dentists and health care providers that having an open heart, a little patience and creativity can make all the difference in the oral health and ultimately, the lives of people with disabilities.
Today, Dr. DeLucia teaches pediatric dentistry residents at URMC’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and is faculty for the LEND Fellowship program in hopes of inspiring another generation of oral health providers to care for this population. She also has a private practice in Webster.