Sanchez Family Foundation sponsors mobile dental van
Contact: Rosanne Fohn, (210) 567-3079
LAREDO (Jan. 11, 2008) — The A.R. “Tony” and Maria J. Sanchez Family Foundation is sponsoring a mobile dental van pilot program to offer basic dental care to residents of four colonias and other underserved communities in the Laredo area.
Pediatric dentistry residents from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio provide the dental care as part of their clinical training.
Mobile dental van visits Oilton Elementary School
The mobile dental van was in the Quad City area, about 35 miles east of Laredo off Highway 359, on Jan. 11 to provide dental care for students at Oilton Elementary School, 320 Despain Street, in Oilton. Sanchez and Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center, were on hand to observe the mobile dental van program in action and to visit with area residents.
Laredo is substantially underserved area
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the dentist-to-population ratio for the Laredo-border area is substantially below the state and national averages. A survey conducted by the Health Science Center in 2006 in the Texas-Mexico Border Region indicated that two-thirds of the people screened had not visited a dentist in the previous year. Of those screened, more than half of the adults and more than one-third of children had untreated dental decay.
“We have such a tremendous need for dental care here in Laredo,” Sanchez said. “Tani and I felt strongly that this was a way that we could truly make a difference. We wanted to help those who might not otherwise be able to receive dental care.”
Dr. Cigarroa added, “Tony approached us about using a mobile dental van to help those who are unable to access dental care. We are proud that our dental students and residents can help provide community service to patients who really need it, while receiving their clinical training. Many chronic health problems are associated with poor oral health.”
Pilot program underway since April
The mobile dental van program has been underway since April 2007 and more than 600 patients and 4,000 dental procedures have been provided. Health Science Center dental students and general dentistry and pediatric dental residents provide the services, under the supervision of a Dental School faculty member. The services include dental exams, X-rays, cleanings, sealants, fillings and emergency extractions. Local dental practitioners provide emergency back-up for the program.
Others on hand to observe mobile van operations included Kevin Donley, D.D.S., M.S., chairman of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, and Tim Henson, D.M.D., associate professor and director of the pediatric dentistry residency program.
Van part of Health Science Center's overall dental education initiative in Laredo
The mobile dental van is part of a pilot outreach program linked to the Health Science Center’s initiative to establish a regional dental education campus in Laredo within a decade. The initiative will provide extended training opportunities for dental students and dental residents, while providing community service to the underserved in the Laredo area.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to seven campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 22,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields.
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