Caring for the community runs in the family for Dr. Titus Hou, so the Burnaby dentist and clinical instructor at the University of B.C. jumped at the chance to support Vancouver Coastal Health's (VCH) COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
“My family is all medical and scientific – my father is a dentist, two cousins are dentists and specialists, my uncle is a family physician, and my cousin is even a radiologist with VCH," says Titus. “When the vaccination campaign was expanded to include dentists, I applied right away because I wanted to help be part of the solution to this global pandemic that has affected us all in profound ways."
In addition to full time private practice, he was working on his days off from May through August at the Vancouver Convention Centre immunization clinic. After practicing for 10 years in a small private clinic, Titus felt that the chance to work with a large multidisciplinary health team and large facility was a great opportunity to collaborate, network and apply his dentistry skills to a public health issue.
“Where I excel is my ability to empathize with anxious patients," he explains. “In the dental office, there is a lot of that, and our training helps us to manage this, including comfortable injection techniques. It was easy to find my groove and work with people who had deferred appointments due to needle phobia, and then be successful when I saw them on the second appointment."
He says it's this type of work that helps him live the values of a quote by Pablo Picasso that resonates with him: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
And Titus continues to give. Although his work in the immunization clinic at the convention centre originally came to an end in August, he immediately returned this past month to help with child vaccinations and boosters.
He is grateful to have the chance to work with many of the same colleagues, and finds reward in the response and gratitude he receives from his clients and patients.
“The amount of gratitude I have felt from patients coming in is overwhelming – patients usually feel that coming to the dentist can be a chore," Titus explains. “At the vaccination clinics, people thank me every day for the work that I do, there are so many people who are happy to be there to get their vaccine. It makes working a 12-hour shift on my day off something to look forward to."