Chamber Connection Helps Give Smiles to Local Veterans
Submitted by By Harriet Seldin, DMD
At the Academy of General Dentistry’s (AGD's) annual meeting at the San Diego Convention Center, AGD/AGD Foundation held a "Nation of Smiles, One Smile at a Time" Outreach treating patients referred by Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) on July 29-30. We treated patients in mobile dental clinics rented from OnSite Health. Services provided included exams, x-rays, fillings and extractions. The project wouldn't have been possible without a Chamber connection!
Thirty California-licensed dentists, including local AGD and Dental Society member dentists, participated in the AGD Outreach. We had 3 hygienists, one dental student (UCSF), 26 pre-dental students (UCSD and SDSU), 5 Registered Dental Assistants, 4 Dental Assistants, several other dental office staff, and out-of-state dentists. In total we had 80 volunteers. We provided $80,000 of dental services. We saw 123 patients. Volunteers provided nearly 630 procedures, with services valued at over $625 per patient.
We were pleased that the contribution of this Outreach to San Diego veterans was recognized by the local media and elected officials. Bill Horn, the Chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, visited with us. Assemblymember Toni Atkins, who serves on the Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, also spent time at the Outreach. Dr. Patricia Arola, Assistant Undersecretary of the VA for Dentistry, visited the Outreach. Several television stations covered the event.
The San Diego County Dental Society, its staff and 25 of its members, screened over 200 patients at VVSD in the month prior to the Outreach.
AGD also requested medical screening. Lisa Baer, RN, BSN, from UCSD Health Systems/Cardiology, provided BP and blood sugar testing, and Cholesterol screening. As a result of a discussion with Sunny Smith, MD, who works with medical students at UCSD, the two sides of UCSD (health systems and education) combined forces. Lisa Baer and colleagues worked alongside Dr. Smith and medical students. We recruited Ms. Baer due to a discussion with Zach Schlagel of UCSD at a Chamber Health Committee meeting. It was a Chamber connection that helped set up the medical screening.
The patients were veterans from current and past wars. Many had experienced homelessness and a history of substance abuse. They were referred by VVSD, where many reside. The vets are in treatment and counseling programs. Veterans Village and the programs they work with not only spread the word among their clients about the Outreach, they also arranged for patient transportation.
The AGD Outreach helped improve the oral health for underserved San Diego veterans, helped in the education of future dentists, and will lead to increased collaboration among several health and educational organizations.
Dr. Seldin, a member of the Chamber’s Health Committee, was the Local Committee Chair for the AGD Outreach. She has a private practice in General Dentistry in Clairemont.