Bulletin of Dental Education

LSC-Kingwood Dental Hygiene Program Rebuilds After Hurricane Harvey

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The Lone Star College-Kingwood (LSC-Kingwood) Dental Hygiene Program strives to develop competent dental hygienists who will provide skilled and compassionate care in their chosen communities. Since 2004, the department has offered a learning environment that allows students to grow to the full extent of their ability and succeed in a competitive work environment. 

“I am proud to be a part of the dental hygiene program at LSC-Kingwood and am grateful for administration, faculty and staff who are focused on student success,” says Joanna Allaire, M.D.H., Dental Hygiene Program Director.

In August 2017, the program, along with others, nearly came to a halt when LSC-Kingwood took on 48 inches of biohazard flood water due to Hurricane Harvey. The dental hygiene clinic received more than three feet of contaminated water, forcing the program to relocate classes and services to an off-campus site. 

“Faculty, staff and students were heartbroken to see not only the dental hygiene program, but the majority of the campus destroyed by this catastrophic storm,” Prof. Allaire says. “When it became clear of the extensive amount of damages that we faced, we had to find a space to build a temporary clinic for students to complete their clinical hours.”

During the storm and recovery phases, the program faced tough challenges, including moving courses from a 16-week semester to 12 weeks, replacing expensive instruments for students, finding a temporary location and keeping the morale high. To meet these challenges, campus leaders leased space within a local physical therapy clinic and worked with Patterson Dental to install 15 dental chairs and create a sterilization and lab area. 

“I think that the biggest lessons students learned during the storm/recovery process were resilience and flexibility,” Prof. Allaire says. “They learned that they could be successful despite tremendous challenges, which are important attributes in any profession.”

Additional recovery methods included program leaders reaching out to other dental and dental hygiene schools, vendors, and organizations like the ADEA; borrowing or using donated equipment and supplies to teach preclinical courses and equip the clinic; and working with publishers to provide electronic textbooks to students who lost theirs. During this phase, the program learned a vital lesson—organization.

“We learned to be prepared! It is essential to have a comprehensive inventory of everything the program owns,” she says. “Since we lost all of our paper records, we now save all documents in electronic formats.”

As the program continues to rebuild, employees and students proudly boast a sustained 100% pass rate on the National Dental Hygiene Board Exam and clinical board exams—a statistic that remains since the beginning of the program. The LSC-Kingwood Dental Hygiene Program still operates at a nearby facility and will transfer back to the campus when the new Health Professions Center opens in 2021. The state-of-the-art facility will accommodate growth from 15 to 24 dental students each year. 

Courtesy of Bill Van Rysdam, Manager of Media Relations, Lone Star College

Published on May 8, 2019

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