The Saipan Seventh-day Adventist Clinic is celebrating a milestone in its history as the longest-established clinic on Saipan, marking 40 years of providing dental care to the island community.
What started out at its first clinic director's residence in 1972 has grown into a dental clinic that meets the wide range of oral health care needs of the population.
“We try to stay on top of technology in dentistry as it develops and changes, and maintain excellent standards of care to enable us to give our patients top quality dental care just as good as you would get anywhere in the U.S., hopefully better,” said clinic director Dr. Kenneth D. Pierson.
He stressed that their Christian principles, which are at the core of their organization, distinguish them from other private dental clinics in the field. Owned and operated by the SDA World Church organization, the Saipan SDA Clinic's philosophy is rooted in values like honesty, compassion, and ethical practice.
Additionally, Pierson said that the Saipan SDA Clinic is recognized for its various outreach programs and activities such as Clinic With A Heart, Give Kids A Smile, participation in health fairs, and presentations in schools.
“All of that put together and it's a really unique situation to be in, where we're not driven by profit but rather what's best for each patient,” he said.
Despite the economic and population declines, Pierson said that SDA Clinic continues to maintain a solid clientele base that includes people of every ethnic background and age.
“We've been able to remain busy and there are always people in need of our services,” he said. “I really feel that the Lord has sustained us and kept things going well.”
To commemorate its anniversary, Saipan SDA Clinic will have a weekend celebration, beginning with today's Open House from 11am to 2pm. The event, Pierson said, is an opportunity not only to welcome the public but also a meet-and-greet for their founder, Dr. Steve Fisher.
Fisher, who is on island with wife Karyl, recounted in a separate interview that he was asked to set up the Saipan SDA Clinic at the invitation of the NMI Legislature to the Guam SDA Clinic.
The first clinic, located in the Fisher residence in Susupe behind the Joeten warehouses, had two dental operatories and a reception area. Back then, it was manned by Steve Fisher as the clinic director and dentist, his wife Karyl as receptionist, and Terry Rumal as assistant.
Setting up the clinic didn't come easy, according to Fisher, as they had to deal with issues like “very intermittent” electricity and water supply as well as scarce building materials. As soon as the clinic opened, however, Karyl said that they were booked two months in advance.
Seven years later, a second building on the same site was built. In 1989, it was decided that the clinic be moved to its current location next to the SDA Church along Quartermaster Road.
Steve and Karyl Fisher left the island that same year or about 18 years since the clinic was established. This trip has been their third visit since leaving the Marianas and going back to Auburn, Calif.
“I'm always excited at how well the community accepted us and actually contributes to our success,” he said.
Steve Fisher applauded Pierson and the entire Saipan SDA Clinic staff for doing “a great job” of keeping up the clinic and being actively involved in the community. “I think community involvement is what we're here for. The more we do, the better.”
He also noted how the Saipan SDA Clinic backs initiatives that support the younger members of the community. “The core of community is the children,” Fisher explained. “It's one of the most important areas, to provide as much help and education for the young people so they can grow up and become responsible adults in the community.”
Pierson, for his part, thanked the Fishers for building the clinic's foundation and standards to which they adhere in carrying on realizing the Saipan SDA Clinic's mission. He also acknowledged their clients for their trust and confidence in the clinic.
Pierson also recognized the staff-past and present-of the Saipan SDA Clinic. “To reach 40 years is more than just one or two people,” he said. “I am grateful to all those who continue to work and have worked in the past to make this achievement a reality.”