The best dental care available could never build the special kind of smile a Red Deer practitioner has been wearing for more than a week.
Ernie Slubik, who has been practising dentistry in Red Deer for 25 years, learned just over a week ago that he had won big — really, really big — in the Caritas Hospitals Lottery that supports Edmonton’s Grey Nuns, Misericordia and General hospitals.
Even before the lottery foundation called, Slubik was getting calls from patients who had watched the draw live on television and were worried that, with $1 million in cash and a new $1.5-million home, their dentist would be heading north.
“I was in the middle of things where I couldn’t get to a phone last week when (the lottery foundation) called me. We had patients phoning, saying: ‘Is Dr. Ernie still going to be our dentist?’ ”
The father of two university students has assured each of his patients that he’ll stick around for a few more years.
“I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Family members in Slubik’s hometown of Edmonton would love to have him back in their city, but that’s not in the stars right now, he said on Thursday.
“It’s too far to commute. My home is Red Deer and this is where I’m going to be for a while yet.”
The house would make a nice wedding present for his son, Matt, who is engaged to be married. But Matt’s sister, Krista, may have something to say about that, said Slubik.
For now, he plans to invite a few people for a party at the new house and will worry later about what to do with it.
For years, Slubik has routinely purchased tickets for hospital lotteries in Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary, mainly to support the cause.
“I usually buy one ticket. I believe, for this one, I might have bought a package of three.”
He has won only one other prize.
“About 15 years ago, I won a hand-held GPS. I had no idea what to do with it or how to use it, so I actually gave it away to someone.”