by Brandon LaChance

Malone to Receive Heart to Hands Award

Fox Center Recognized Nationally

If you’ve had a dentist appointment in Herscher and the surrounding area, or are currently a dental patient at the William Fox Developmental Center in Dwight, you may recognize a face on the current issue of the Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine.
RDH features three dental hygienists from anywhere in the world who were recognized as recipients of the Philips/RDH Heart to Hands Award.
On the right is a dental hygienist who grew up east of Cabery, graduated from Tri-Point High School and Parkland College’s Dental Hygiene Program (1984), and currently lives on a farm between Kempton and Campus…Julie Malone.
“The description of the award is that it’s not just about being a good dental hygienist, but to do all of the things that we do well, we need to be kind people and we need a heart,” said Malone, who has been married to Vernon Malone for 37 years and has three children in Zach (35), Alex (33), and Dana (30). “That’s the focus of the award. This award tends to highlight those of us in more non-traditional dental hygiene roles – other than strictly private practice.
“I’m happy that I won it because it’s a reflection of all of my co-workers at the Fox Center. We all work together at Fox to take care of our individuals. I appreciate them all and the help that they give me. I feel that everyone there are kind people with big hearts. I’m happy for Fox Center that I won this to put national attention on dentistry in a state-operated developmental center (SODC).”
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Malone started in private practice a little over 38 years ago after graduating from Parkland College.
She stayed on the private route for 35 years – 22 years with Dr. Arthur Kremer in Herscher – until she took the job at the Fox Center in October 2018 on the recommendation of one of her clients.
“I really don’t remember a defining moment where I decided to become a dental hygienist. It was one of those things that when you’re a student and you’re trying to think of jobs that appeal to you, it was something that was brought up at school or by a teacher,” Malone said. “It was something that I was immediately drawn to. It was probably because I always liked to go to the dentist as a kid.
“I love what I do. I love interacting with my patients. A dental hygiene career really lets you get to know your patients. Many of them see us twice a year. We get to see kids grow up. That’s what was hard about leaving my job in Herscher. I had patients that I knew since they were 2- or 3-years old. I was there for their first visit and I watched them grow up and graduate high school. You really get to know families.
“There is something really personal about working in people’s mouths. When you go to a dentist, they’re right in your face. You do establish relation ships and get to really know your people. Every day when I look at the schedule, I get excited because of who is coming in and who I get to see for the day.”
With almost four decades of experience in a sometimes thankless profession, Malone is overwhelmed with the acknowledgment.
The Philips Sonicare and RDH award, which named its winners on Feb. 1 and will be presented in July, comes with other perks besides the RDH Magazine cover and a feature article.
Malone will receive the award at the RDH Under One Roof Conference, which is expensive and features some of the top dental hygienists in the industry. Her fee for the conference will be picked up by RDH.
So will all of her other expenses while she is in Orlando.
For the local dental hygienist, it’s all about community and her work environment as she is excited and humbled to receive notice for her work that she truly enjoys with people and organizations she’s proud to be associated with.
“The Illinois Department of Human Services recognizes the need for a dental hygienist in their SODC, the Fox Center. Our individuals are deserving of the same care, the same preventive care that we as dental hygienists give compared to the dentists. All of my patients deserve the same care as those in private practice. It’s a great opportunity for me to be the one who can give it to them.”
Brandon LaChance is a journalist with The Paper. He can be reached at 815-876-7941,, or on Twitter @LaChanceWriter.