As part of the Flying Samaritans, pre-dental students had the opportunity to organize a dental clinic from the ground up. Now, a dental team consisting of a dentist, clinic manager, floor manager, X-ray tech, and four chairside assistants drive down every third Saturday near Ensenada, Mexico. Together along with the support of friends at home, donations and manual labor bring the dental clinic to life!
It started a day dedicated to cleaning, organizing, and supplying that marked the transition between a clinic that simply did prophys to a functional and meaningful clinic. First of all, in addition to the dental room, a storage room was offered to dental. It appeared that no one used that room because of how filthy, dirty, and unorganized it was. I recall the first time I saw the room, I thought, “We have a lot of work to do.” There were rat droppings and 2 1/2 cockroaches! It was essential to have a separate room dedicated to cleaning instruments and developing X-rays. Although we heavily did not want to clean, we had to start of somewhere. With the help of Selena and Anelah, we started the unpleasant job of: cleaning the drawers with bleach, throwing away as much junk as possible, moving the shelves and organizing them, buying a table, and finally placing the autoclave, ultrasonic machine, and X-ray developer. After five hours of hard work we transformed the storage room into the sterilization room it is today! Its now history of the dental clinic and it just has to be known that a lot of work was put into cleaning that room.
Further, we gave the dental room a deep cleaning and stocked the mini storage room and drawers. By the first Pre-Clinic session we were able to receive donations from our Baker clinic, storage, and ebay. We brought them along and organized the material in the appropriate places. By then, our clinic appeared fully stocked with dental accessories such as cotton roll dispensers, mouthwash, cups, colorful trays, and such. It was the little things they donated that fine-tuned our clinic and for that I’m personally grateful.
I tested out the manual autoclave which was a learning experience for me since in the past I only worked with automatic ones. Because we had wifi, I looked up how to use the manual autoclave and I eventually ran autoclave with chamber brite. I set up the ultrasonic cleaner to the best I could as well.
Alberto was lead X-ray Tech so he learned how to use the X-ray developing machine, tested all the different types of films, and set-up bottles for the fixer and developer waste. It was definitely a learning experience for him as well, and I’m glad he thoroughly inspected every possible aspect of taking X-rays with test runs, proving helpful on the actual clinic day. He also was the handyman for the day which he enjoyed very much! Because of him, the bottom shelf in the small storage room works, and the sink tubing doesn’t leak! In addition, he along with Selena made sure the dental unit worked. By the end of the day, we were prepared for clinic!
One week later we had our first official clinic day with Dr. Marquez. Unfortunately, we realized we overlooked essential supplies to run! We were missing air/water syringe tips, goggles, and a 557 bur to name a few. Alberto and Anelah were able to make a quick stop to Home Depot to buy goggles for the restorative procedures. Along the way, we found out that the manual X-ray developer would be more efficient than the automatic X-ray developer. Regardless of all the dysfunctions, we took it as improvements we could apply towards the next clinic session.
The following month was the next scheduled clinic session so during that time, we asked Chris Ippolito for donations which proved successful! He was able to provide the needed burs, short needles, masks, gauze, and three dental stools! He gave us boxes of donations so we had to schedule another Pre-Clinic session for those items alone. We bought barrier tape, autoclave tape, and air/water syringe tips. We were fully equiped as best we could and the Friday before the clinic day we went to set up. Alberto cleaned the stockroom to perfection and prepared the manual X-ray developer, Selena took inventory, and I organized our new supplies. By the end of the day, we cleared the clinic of unnecessary supplies which we’re planning to sell and we realized we could not find the slow speed handpiece motor. Because clinic was the next day, we were unsure of how clinic would run.
On the day of the second clinic day, we had Dr. Rooney, a pediatric dentist join us and his work exceeded our expectations! Overall, we had a great team that fulfilled their duties to the maximum, saw a maximum amount of patients, and provided fillings, cleanings, and extractions. I was impressed on everyones hard work and I can see that the past cleaning session, two pre-clinic sessions, and past clinic session paid off. This dental clinic has a bright future!