Ostrow Students, Residents, and Faculty Take Part in Care Harbor Clinic
Students, residents, and faculty of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC spent September 27-30 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena caring for hundreds as part of the 2012 Care Harbor service event.
Patients received root canal treatment and other endodontic care within one of the USC Mobile Dental Clinic vehicles parked inside the arena and received tooth restorations and oral hygiene instruction within banks of dental chairs on the arena floor. 2012 was the school’s third year taking part in this type of massive local clinic, which this year saw 4,800 access wristbands handed out to patients anxiously hoping to receive care.
Santosh Sundaresan, director of the Mobile Dental Clinic, said that this year’s efforts had been made vastly more efficient with the use of portable digital x-ray devices. He explained that efficiency and quality was especially key for Care Harbor as dental care is the most sought-after service offered during the four-day clinic. Ostrow personnel alone treated more than 400 of the 2500 dental patients at the event.
“There is an overwhelming need for dental care. People are coming here with sensitivity or pain in many teeth; often, we’ll need to rebuild teeth from scratch or fix previous dental work that’s broken,” Sundaresan said. “This indeed is an eye opener to see the vast number of people who lack the access to and cannot afford comprehensive dental care. Hopefully these events provide an impetus and stimulus to get a structure for more affordable dental care for the masses.”
Currently unemployed and mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs just to get by, Shondell Bennett of Los Angeles knew he could not afford the extensive dental work he needed. He said he spent the night sleeping outside of the arena in order to make sure he could get into the Care Harbor clinic; once inside, Ostrow students performed root canal treatment and a restoration to salvage his ailing tooth. Bennett, who in years past had already had several teeth removed due to other dental problems, said he was relieved to not need another extraction.
“I’ve been looking for affordable care, but it’s hard to come by,” Bennett said. “Being able to come here was a blessing. It would have been just one more pulled tooth had I not come here.”
Sumeet Srivastava DDS ’13 said the experience of helping patients at Care Harbor was very humbling and rewarding.
“Some of the patients had come in holding their mouths, and were walking away smiling,” he said. “The gratitude from patients is enormous.”
Roger Fieldman, dental director for the Care harbor event, praised the Ostrow School of Dentistry for its involvement in the event.
“SC’s been an integral part of this,” he said. “Their endo van relieves a lot of pressure, and they bring a lot of great expertise.”