My older daughter and I were running errands the other day. She went to place an order at Tropical Smoothie while I picked up seed at the Wild Bird Center. When I joined her in line she exclaimed she saw Dr. Makarita sitting at one of the tables. I found myself running around to the other side of the restaurant in hopes of seeing him, but he had already left. What was I thinking? Would I have said hello to him? Would I have chatted? Would I have asked him to recommend a good dentist in the area?
We found Dr. Hamada Makarita by contacting the president of the American Dental Association almost 10 years ago who told us the dentist in Oakton was one of the very best providers in the area. My husband sought the guidance of the ADA because we constantly found ourselves in a black hole of dentist providers: Every time we found one we liked they sold their practice and we inherited the DDS who bought the business. Never satisfied with the hand-me-down dentists, one of us always felt we were asked us to spend money for a procedure that our gut told us was unnecessary. There was also the provider who continued to spell my name wrong on all my medical files. I hate that.
Nine years ago when we moved to Oakton we started receiving dental care from Hamada Makarita. He had state-of-the-art technology where he was able to fill my daughter’s first cavity in record time, without anesthesia, because he was the first kid on the block to own a laser. The machine sounded just like popcorn, we all mused. Who ever thought such bright and happy thoughts in a dentist’s office before? This was so night-and-day different from the dental care I received as a kid. Adults had a better time of it, too. When the need came for me to get a crown, Makarita was able to create my permanent crown in one sitting rather than send me home with a temporary for two weeks.
And there was the inside family joke about his name. Whenever one of us had an appointment, we’d sing the Spanish dance song by Los del Río from the '90s, Macarena, complete with arm movements: "I have a dentist and his name is Makarita. HAY, Makarita."
We were blindsided, as many in our community had been, when we received news from Oakton Patch of charges filed against Makarita in March. According to the affidavit, Hamada Makarita was arrested for distributing controlled substances by having prescriptions filled which he gave to women whom he was dating or possibly kept the pills for himself. Though he was not arrested for sexual misconduct, the investigation included information about lewd photos Makarita had allegedly taken of women friends who were using the drugs for recreational purposes.
Obviously, there’s more to the story as is suggested by the judge who allowed Makarita to remain at work and prescribe some medications while the investigation continues. Makarita also sent out an email to patients asserting the charges against him were untrue and started by a disgruntled employee. It turns out the ex-employee may be facing charges for embezzling money from Makarita’s business, according to Makarita's supporters who have commented on the Oakton Patch article.
Makarita and his staff treated me and my family with respect, professionalism and kindness. It is because of the possibility of his innocence that makes this small scandal in our little town more sad than sensational. How will Makarita ever regain his reputation in the community even if he is found innocent? Yet, in light of all these accusations, how can I comfortably allow him to provide care for my children?
This scenario has certainly cultivated a lot of discussion among friends, and I’ve struggled with how to both err on the side of caution and support the age-old American ideal that one is innocent until proven guilty. So I’ve decided to split the difference on this one. I will continue to seek dental care from Hamada Makarita but will look to a pediatric dentist for my kids for the foreseeable future. What would you do?