Bulletin of Dental Education

Helping Hands: Pacific Students and Faculty Provide Dental Care at Project Homeless Connect

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Submitted by the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

Students and faculty from the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry participated in San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event on October 5, 2011. Throughout the day, students worked to provide free dental screenings and basic care to homeless individuals.

By the end of the day, dental school volunteers had screened and provided referrals to more than 100 people. Those needing immediate complex care (such as extractions) were given the opportunity to take a shuttle to the Dugoni School of Dentistry for on-site procedures.

A city-supported program, PHC  takes place at various locations in San Francisco, California, several times each year. It serves thousands of people, who receive free medical and dental care, mental health services, haircuts, employment, legal counseling, food, and a variety of other services.

In total, 34 homeless patients were treated at the school's oral surgery clinic, resulting in 100-plus extracted teeth and more than $20,000 worth of donated care. The PHC event succeeded thanks to the collaboration among all who volunteered for the cause, including the dental school, San Francisco Dental Society members, local dentists, and health care agencies.

"The homeless population of San Francisco is in such great need, and it's easy for those who want to help to feel overwhelmed and wonder what can be done," said Mr. Kevin S. Walker, Class of 2012 and Pacific's current PHC lead. "Project Homeless Connect is an incredible event that provides crucial services to the homeless that they could not access otherwise."

During PHC's events, participants are able to accomplish in one day what might normally take eight months. Numerous corporations, nonprofits, schools, and government agencies provide PHC and its clients with services. In response to the changing needs of the homeless and low-income population, PHC has continued to reshape its outreach strategy and improve available services by hosting events specifically designed for veterans, families, and children.

The Dugoni School of Dentistry has participated in Project Homeless Connect events since 2007. To learn more and to see a list of community partners involved, visit http://www.projecthomelessconnect.com/home/partners.

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