Entire Campus and Dental Hygiene program volunteer for dental health event
Many of San Diego’s homeless and low-income families in need of dental care spent the night in a huge tent outside the Del Mar Fairground’s Exhibit Hall for a first-in-line advantage to participate in the 3-day California Dental Association Cares event. Aimed at providing much needed dental care to those who cannot afford it, CDA Cares, sponsored by the California Dental Association Foundation, served over 2,200 patients during this December 6-8 event.
SJVC’s San Diego campus, whose Dental Hygiene program is its exclusive career training offering, participated at all levels of service for this event, which included medical triage (to screen participants for medical eligibility for services), dental triage, x-rays, dental hygiene (cleaning), fillings, extractions and impressions for dentures.
Every Dental Hygiene student – including those who just began their first class the week before – along with every faculty and staff member from the San Diego campus, joined in the effort to bring dental care to those in need. Beginning and senior students benefited from direct interaction with patients, as well as the enormous satisfaction they gained from their volunteer experience.
“Our new students were motivated to learn so they can continue to help others, and the more experienced students are excited to graduate and be able to give back to the communities they are living in,” says Jean Honny, Campus Director and DH Program Director. “One student said, ‘I think I got more out of this experience than the patients did. ‘It really felt good to help someone in need.’”
The California Dental Association Foundation, who puts on this event as least twice a year in CA, estimates that as many as 10 million Californians do not receive dental care because they are uninsured due to job loss or they are homeless, as are many military veterans. Many children are left out, as their families struggle in low-income jobs without dental benefits.
Over 100 dental chairs were provided, including 24 devoted to dental hygiene and 12 to pediatric dentistry, along with sterilization areas to keep instruments at the ready. Nurses and EMTs were on site to provide emergency response, if needed. The event filled the entire convention center exhibit hall.
Throughout the three days, long lines of patients wound their way through screening, examinations and treatments toward much–needed reparation and healthier dental hygiene.
More than 1,700 dental health professionals and volunteers provided approximately $1.62 million in dental services to those in greatest need and most unable to afford them.
“Everyone we treated was so grateful,” says Jean Honny, Campus Director and DH Program Director. “At the end, our students were giving people our phone number so they could come here and continue treatment.”
SJVC is proud to have sponsored this event by donating funds to operate a dental chair, as well as provided staff, faculty and students in support of such a heartfelt community need.
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