Dozens of Three Rivers Dental Group, Jennerstown, patients each lost thousands of dollars in the last few months after the unfortunate death of their dentist.
Dr. L. Keith Fammartino operated a Three Rivers Dental Group office in Jennerstown until his death on Sept. 19. Now, his patients say that they have unfinished dental work that they paid for in advance.
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The Facebook group Victims of Three Rivers Dental Jennerstown has 42 followers as of Thursday. Melissa Anderson, who started the Facebook group, said she paid more than $15,000 to Three Rivers Dental Group Jennerstown.
She paid to get implants and four bridges, but she had issues with the fitting.
“After many return visits to Three Rivers without making any progress, I developed severe pain on the upper right side of my mouth,” she said.
Anderson met with another dentist, had more work done by Fammartino, which she was unhappy with, and did not have her implant and bridge fixed.
“…and Three Rivers was not honoring (Fammartino’s) work that is started or giving refunds,” Anderson said. “I asked very specifically for my treatment notes and Chelsea, the office manager from Greensburg, said they were only releasing X-rays. At this point X-rays are very little use without the treatment records. I have severe damage from the faulty work.”
Group member Ginny Simon, of Stoystown, said that she went to Three Rivers Dental Group Jennerstown to get some teeth pulled, a few partials and caps.
“One cap came off and I went back and they replaced it and it came off again,” she said.
Simon paid about $4,500 for procedures in advance, and she said she has been left with unfinished work and a wire that pushes into her gums.
“I can’t afford to go to another dentist. I’m on Social Security. I’d have to pay everything all over again,” she said.
Mike Valentine, of Meyersdale, said he paid more than $5,000 for extractions, attachments and dentures, but received only a $500 refund from Three Rivers Dental Group Jennerstown.
“I wasn’t informed of the dentist’s death until I called the Greensburg office on Oct. 27 and they told me,” he said. “I was told that they would send me a release form but have not received it or heard anything more, from the Greensburg office.”
Susan Brown, of Boswell, paid more than $8,000 for root canals and bridges that were never completed.
“It was going to be $18,000 but I didn’t get the final,” she said. “I’m going to end up going to another dentist and paying him $9,000.
“This is costing me over double.”
She said that Three Rivers Dental Group told her that they had nothing to do with the Jennerstown office and she would have to deal with Dr. Fammartino’s estate.
“Nobody has heard from his estate,” Brown said. “There’s a bunch of us and we’re all out a lot of money.
“(Three Rivers Dental Group) said Fammartino’s practice was a privately owned franchise and they can’t refund or help.”
Response from Three Rivers Dental Group
Marc Schneider, Three Rivers Dental Group corporate counsel, said that Fammartino purchased the rights to use the Three Rivers Dental Group name and franchise rights in 2017.
Since then, Three Rivers Dental Group Jennerstown has been its own business and paid only franchise rights for the name.
“He purchased the assets of the practice through a contract with (Three Rivers Dental Group owner Dr. Lawrence Rudolph) to use the trade name in that location,” Schneider said.
The four other Three Rivers locations had no involvement in patient or business decisions.
“Some patients lumped everyone together and made accusations against Dr. Rudolph,” said Schneider. “Practically speaking, he was hands off.”
After Fammartino’s death, the Three Rivers Group attempted to help continue care with his patients but have been unable to do so because of a lack of cooperation from Fammartino’s heirs, said Schneider.
The other Three Rivers Dental Group offices have no access to patient records, he said.
Legal action is pending in Allegheny County Orphans Court to appoint someone to handle Fammartino’s estate and identify someone that patients can bring claims against, according to Schneider.
“Dr. Fammartino had no succession plan for his patients as far as we know,” he said.
Follow Dylan Johnson on Twitter at @DADylanJohnson and on Facebook at facebook.com/DylanJohnsonDailyAmerican.