The School of Dentistry recently received a $154,425 grant payment from the UniHealth Foundation to cover an additional eighteen months of its service learning collaboration with MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) says Albin Grohar, PhD, executive director, Loma Linda University Philanthropy.
Established in 1998, UniHealth Foundation is an independent private health care foundation which mission is to support and facilitate activities that significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities it serves including those of the San Fernando Valley.
This is the third grant that UniHealth has awarded LLUSD since it first provided the School with a two-year appropriation of $211,667 in the Spring of 2008—the first grant from an application initiated in 2006 by Brian Novy, SD’06, assistant professor, Department of Restorative Dentistry.
The grants from UniHealth pay for the expenses involved in LLUSD’s collaboration with MEND. The School provides faculty, students, and their combined expertise to serve the oral healthcare needs of the substantial, indigent population in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. There, in the town of Pacoima, MEND has established a large, full-service medical and dental clinic.
Starting as a small group of volunteers working from a garage in the early 1970?s, MEND began an effort to transform the lives of the neediest residents of the San Fernando Valley. Driven 99 percent by volunteers, and almost entirely privately funded, MEND has grown primarily by word-of-mouth into one of the leanest of operating non-profit organizations.
In collaborating with MEND, Loma Linda’s commitment is to provide student/faculty teams of 12 at each academic break (ten dental students and two faculty) and six-member teams from the International Dentistry Program (IDP) each Tuesday and Wednesday of the winter quarter. For these services, LLUSD students accumulate required service learning credits, gain real-world professional experience, and become directly aware of the needs of so many who cannot afford their expertise.
The UniHealth grant provides for the salary one day each week of Evan Lemley, SD’06, assistant clinical professor, Dental Education Services, who provides clinical and administrative oversight for the School’s presence at MEND and for the students who volunteer their accumulating clinical skills at the facility.
UniHealth Foundation provided another $260,651 in March 2010 to continue the LLU/MEND collaboration for two additional years. For that period’s results, Dr. Lemley reports the School’s volunteering dental students worked a total of 72 days and treated 680 patients. This exceeded by 20 days the targeted two-year goal of 52 volunteer days. Collectively, IDP students and pre-doctoral students performed 1,282 procedures between March of 2010 and June of 2012.
Under that most recent grant, Dr. Lemley created standardized protocols that enhanced organization and efficiency that permitted an expansion of treatment plan options for MEND patients. These treatment plans now include removable and fixed prosthodontics as well as endodontic procedures. Careful money management permitted the addition of another part-time faculty member, Matthew Streelman, DDS, assistant professor, Restorative Dentistry, to augment Dr. Lemley’s efforts.
As a direct result of the UniHealth Foundation grant and Dr. Lemley’s protocols, pre-doctoral students are able to treat teeth that otherwise would have been extracted with endodontic and restorative procedures. And with the addition of Dr. Streelman and an additional quarter of IDP student participation, considerably more prosthodontics procedures are being completed. During the first year, Dr. Lemley worked at MEND 34 days, and with Dr. Streelman, in the second year, together they attended MEND 52 days. During the first year, 11 crowns were delivered and 20 partial and complete dentures were delivered. Those figures grew in the second year to 36 and 73 respectively.
Fred Kasischke, DMin, associate dean, Admissions and Service Learning, will administer the third, recently received UniHealth grant payment on behalf of the School in cooperation with Marianne Haver Hill, president and CEO of MEND. “The University, the School of Dentistry, and MEND have worked collaboratively during the past few years to make this program possible,” says Dr. Grohar.
The UniHealth grants will continue to be used by the School of Dentistry and MEND to enhance dental students learning opportunities as they provide oral healthcare treatment to MEND’s low income and uninsured patients in the San Fernando Valley.