Reaching Out in the Community
The Washington Oral Health Foundation is proud to partner with community groups, like the Muslim Health Professionals of Greater Puget Sound, who are committed to helping the underserved in our state.
Recently, University of Washington School of Dentistry student council VP Mahfuz Rahman and volunteers from the Muslim Health Professionals of Greater Puget Sound brought an MTI van to the Somali Health Fair in the Holly Park neighborhood of Seattle. The group saw ten patients in the MTI van, including an elderly Somalian patient who had been avoiding going to a dental clinic because of the language barrier.
“We had two certified Somali translators at the event,” said Rahman, “so we were able to communicate with her about her needs and take care of the teeth that were causing her pain. She was really grateful for the service and came by to thank all the organizers and the van volunteers. It was a really touching experience.” The group will have two volunteer dentists at their next event, and hope to double the number of patients seen.
The annual fair is sponsored by the Somali Health Board, which was founded in 2012. The group provides culturally sensitive advice and services to local Somalis during the event. Because the community has seen a rise in chronic diseases recently, preventive care and regular checkups were the focus of this year’s event.
The group offered blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, as well as dental screenings in the MTI van, nutritional education, and mammography services.
“Over the past three years, we have played an active role in organizing countless health fairs and outreach events throughout the area,” said Rahman. “Though this is our first time collaborating with the MTI vans, we hope to continue our partnership in the future. We were able to reach out to underserved patients of predominantly Somalian background from the south Seattle, Tukwila, and Kent areas at this event."
Muslim Health Professionals is an organization comprised of students and practicing health professionals whose goal is to address the health and dental needs of the Muslim community in the Northwest. The goal of the health fairs and dental vans is to connect underserved patients, many of whom are recent immigrants or refuges, to health resources in the area.
“We hope to bring a holistic approach in addressing the dental needs of these patients by treating dental disease, helping establish dental homes, providing them with the resources to live a healthy lifestyle, and enrolling patients with health insurance,” said Rahman.