Paramedics ask for help in getting dental work for former artist

Updated: Jun. 1, 2017 at 6:44 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Paramedics meet people every day, but Ronald Erwin left such an impression on one Chesterfield emergency responder he went above and beyond to help.

You can find Ronald Erwin's name in countless medical textbooks, but he was unable to go to medical school.

At the time he applied, universities were not accepting African American students for medical school.

"I said 'ok, I'll do my thing. You'll have to come to me to get your drawings," recalled Ron Erwin.

He paired his passion for medicine with his skills for drawing to create a career in medical illustrations. His work has been published in countless textbooks, which paramedics use.

Chesterfield Firefighter Paramedic Colin McCann first met Mr. Erwin through the county's Mobile Integrated Healthcare program. Emergency responders, like McCann, make house calls to check on people like Erwin.

"We go out into the field and talk to citizens on ways to correct [medical] issues they are having and to find them resources to help," explained McCann. When he was unable to find a way to fix Erwin's problem, he reached out to NBC12 for help.

See, Mr. Erwin has lost most of his teeth. It's not only causing discomfort and embarrassment, it's also causing medical concerns.

"The lips are pushing back into the teeth he does have, wearing holes in the back. It concerns me of an oral infection," said McCann.

The first thing Mr. Erwin does when he meets someone is to cover his mouth with his hand. He has become so self-conscious that he won't leave his home.

"I'd like to get him involved in other programs out there to teach his art to other people. We've talked about it, and it's something he wants to do," explained McCann.

However, he stops himself from getting involved in the community because he is so self-conscious. Instead, he stays at home, alone, as he lost his wife ten years ago to cancer.

"When I lost her....I lost a lot of things," said Erwin as he was drawing, which is when he thinks of his wife the most. "My wife...she was my best critic," he said through a smile at his drawing board.

Although he is a positive presence, smiling isn't something you often see Erwin do because he's too busy trying to hide his teeth.

To help, feel free to email Chesterfield Reporter Stephanie Robusto at

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