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Were Students Put at Risk by Shamokin Dentist?

SHAMOKIN — Shamokin Area Elementary School officials spent the day going through student dental records.  School officials say Dr. Vincent Paczkoskie has been treating students at the school for more than 30 years.

Dr. Paczkoskie’s license was recently suspended by state health officials.  He is accused of not sterilizing his equipment, which health officials say could put patients at risk of Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV.

“Immediately I did call our school nurse and it was confirmed that everything was followed properly.  We used disposable mirrors.  Gloves were used,” Mary Teresa Komara said.

Shamokin Area Elementary School Principal Mary Teresa Komara says while Dr. Paczkoskie was seeing more than 100 students on February 21, the school provided disposable equipment.  She also says the school nurse was present the entire time.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are safe and their welfare is safe.  That’s why we contacted our school physician.  He said the students are not at risk because Dr. Packoskie’s equipment was not used,” Komara said.

Even though the school’s physician says the students are at no risk for disease, one parent tells Newswatch 16 she’s still nervous.

“You never know in this situation,” Ashley Kirby said.

Ashley Kirby has two children that were seen at school by Doctor Paczkoskie.

“He’s afraid of the dentist as it is, but now I’m going to have to go and get him checked to make sure everything is okay with him.  I’m going to have to tell him it’s because of a dentist.  He’s not going to want to go back to any dentist at all,” Kirby said.

Dr. Packoskie has not returned our calls, and was not at his office on Shamokin Street.  Lisa Tinley of Shamokin says last year the dentist pulled out six of her teeth.

“I’m very nervous because I don’t want no diseases, but I will be checked for it.  I’m really scared,” Tinley said.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health says so far they received close to 150 phone calls from Dr. Poczkoskie’s patients.  Shamokin Elementary’s principal says the district will post a message on their website to parents later today regarding the situation, and it will be discussed at this week’s school board meeting.


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