Wolfgang Keich celebrates 50 years as a Tri-C dental hygiene patient
November 20, 2017
When Wolfgang Keich immigrated to America in 1965, he brought with him a desire to advance his education, build up his English vocabulary and start a new life in his new hometown of Cleveland.
But the native of Berlin, Germany brought something else, too: a mouth in desperate need of dental care.
“Back then in Germany, there wasn’t as much of an emphasis on dental hygiene,” said Keich, now 79. “So when I arrived here, my teeth and gums were in bad shape. I had an advanced case of gingivitis.”
Two years after arriving, Keich enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College to pursue an Associate of Arts degree. That’s when he discovered Tri-C’s Dental Hygiene program, then a new program looking for patients. Aspiring dental hygienists must complete clinical hours by performing cleaning and examinations on real patients, and Keich was happy to volunteer his teeth and gums to receive the attention they needed.
Fifty years later, Keich is still a loyal patient of the Tri-C program, visiting the Metro Campus dental hygiene lab several times a year for a routine cleaning and examination.
“I keep coming here because they’re so thorough and professional,” Keich said. “The people here teach their students to be very meticulous in their work, and they also have a lot of compassion for their patients. The students who graduate from here understand that a patient is more than just a set of teeth. You have to care for the whole patient.”
Keich was greeted by nearly the entire Dental Hygiene program when he arrived for his October cleaning. The program held a brief celebration to mark Keich’s 50th anniversary as a patient.
“Our students and faculty always look forward to Mr. Keich’s appointments,” said Dental Hygiene Program Manager Mary Lou Gerosky. “As a patient in our clinic, he is an active participant in the learning experience of our students. He truly is a part of the Tri-C family.”
The program celebrated Keich’s commitment to his dental health with a round of applause and some teeth-friendly gifts, but Keich reflected the spotlight back on a program—and a school—that has meant so much to him over the years.
Keich graduated from Tri-C with an Associate of Arts in 1973, eventually returning to the College to earn an Associate of Science in 2000.
“My mouth is in much better shape now, even at 79, and I credit the Tri-C program for that,” Keich said. “But I also keep coming here because this school has been so important to me. I want to support Tri-C and the students who go here. I encourage people to attend this school because it’s a gateway to a better life. I’m proof of that.”