Around the world: WSDA Members Give Back
Each year, WSDA members donate thousands of dollars worth of services in their practices and around the country. This month, we salute members who donate in some of the poorest countries in the world. We appreciate their efforts!
Dr. Greg Cebulla
Cebulla, a dentist at the Shoalwater Bay Tribal Clinic in Tokeland, is beginning his journey of volunteering. A couple of years back, when Dr. Sherwin Shinn (a past recipient of the Citizen of the Year) visited the Tribal Clinic, Cebulla took the time to visit with him and elicit advice about how to get a program going. Shinn has volunteered in Africa for decades, and brought with him a wealth of information.
Cebulla has family ties in the Philippines, and wanted to give back to the poor village communities there, saying, “While it’s not desolate, adequate dental care is not guaranteed. A lot of kids have rampant dental decay.” Last winter, Cebulla traveled to the village of Alangalang, in the Leyte province, where one of the biggest battles of WWII was waged — in fact, Cebulla’s uncle fought there in the war. Dr. Cebulla was there to lay the groundwork for future trips, and though he did perform some dentistry, most of his time was spent meeting the local community leaders and health care workers to assess what was needed, versus what they already had. Once the program is underway, Cebulla envisions his purpose there as twofold: to handle dental emergencies like extractions; and to begin an education program to help the people make better oral health care decisions going forward. Although the venture is presently small in numbers, he isn’t ruling out bringing other dentists along if the program is successful.
Ultimately, Cebulla’s volunteer vision may include much more than emergent dental care and education though, seeing opportunities in the future for broader spectrum care, saying, “I would love for this program to grow a little beyond dentistry to include medical personnel as well. I have several colleagues who are medical professionals that are interested in coming along to help, but since this program is in its infancy, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.”
Dr. Mike Hyodo
Hyodo moved his family to Nairobi, Kenya, some five years ago to pursue full-time mission work there. While Hyodo still practices in the US, traveling back to the states roughly every two months, he and his family live in Africa full time.
“I’ve been in the ministry for a number of years, and started doing short-term mission work in 1998, including work in Romania, El Salvidor, Santo Domingo, Russia, Jamaica, Cuba, Ghana, Japan and Liberia, among other places across the globe. All told, he estimates he’s help establish about 15 clinics.
He and his wife, Trisha, are part of World Ministries International, a non-denominational Christian organization. Hyodo laughs when asked why he moved his family to Nairobi “I’m always asked, ‘Why would you do that?’, and the answer is, I felt the call to do full-time ministry for a long time. After doing so many short-term mission trips, I had just finished one in Kenya, and I really felt like it was the right place to go.” Hyodo talked with his wife, and with their family they took a short trip to the area to scope it out, and they realized it was the right place to be.
Today, Mike and Trisha call Nairobi home, along with three of their children — Blake, Tia and Joshua. Daughter Nikki is back in Washington at the UW. The kids have a lot of exposure to their ministry work, in part because they regularly foster distressed babies from the local orphanages, and their ministry takes them into the slums to work with children. He says their experience in Africa is largely positive, adding, “The kids are in school all day, and they come home, and I yell at them to do their homework, they go to bed and we start the cycle again the next day. So, while it’s different, it’s not that different from what their experience would be back in Washington.”
Nairobi is a city of over four million, in one of the more advanced countries in East Africa. Although there was some violence after the last elections, Hyodo feels safe there. Their ministry work takes place in both the city and up country, in tiny villages where they set up dental camps to work on patients who might not otherwise receive any dental care.
“It’s like an addictive adventure, and when you take that leap of faith, it’s something that once you do it, it almost becomes a passion or a lifestyle. We initially only made a one-year commitment, thinking that was as long as we could possibly take it. Now, five years in, we’re looking at adding two more years. The irony is that my wife once said she would never go to Africa, So, when she first came here it was out of a sense of obligation. Now, she loves it and doesn’t want to leave.”
Dr. Fred Quarnstrom
Recently Dr. Fred Quarnstrom and his wife, Mariana spent time in Bolivia at the request of Shoreline Dental Hygiene School director, Rosie Ballert. Ballert worked for Dr. Quarnstrom some 35 years ago, and had brought seven hygiene students from around Washington State down to help — and to get to know — the Bolivian hygiene students at a dental hygiene school for homeless indigenous Bolivian girls. The facility was started by Sandy Kemper, a dental hygienist from Seattle, and is believed to be the only dental hygiene school in Bolivia — and perhaps in South America. The girls have no future without some sort of job skills, all are homeless, most are victims of domestic abuse. Quarnstrom taught both Bolivian and American students CPR and medical emergency treatments, and later made the same presentation to the to the first meeting of the Bolivian Dental Hygiene Association — which has just 30 members in all of Bolivia.
While there, Quarnstrom visited a burn hospital, where he performed exams and administered a fluoride varnish with loops for magnification and an REI camping headlight for light. From there, they traveled to a village of 300 people, where he saw 22-25 kids in five hours, extracting more than 65 teeth. Quarnstrom reports, “More than half required sectioning teeth and bringing out individual roots. None had tooth crowns; they were gone to the gum line. We did have a compressor and a high-speed handpiece and an anemic suction. All teeth had decay into the pulp.” With only Clorox and water for sterilization, and no x-rays, options were limited. Had any root tips broken off, nothing could have been done.
If you would like more information about this program, please visit http://www.smilesforever.org/.
Jacqueline Juhl, BS, RDH
Juhl, a dental hygienist member of the WSDA, recently finished a volunteer post aboard the USNS Comfort, as part of the Continuing Promise 2011 mission, described as “a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to the Caribbean, Central and South America providing medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering support. The mission also provides subject matter expert exchanges and foreign disaster relief training. While in each port, the crew worked with host nation medical personnel to provide up to 11 days of medical, dental, optometry, engineering, veterinary services, and civil-military operations training to each country’s citizens.” This was the sixth Continuing Promise mission, and the third aboard Comfort. During its five months at sea, the crew triaged some 70,000 patients in total.
Juhl started off in Hawaii, and from there she went to Tonga, Vanuatu and New Caledonia aboard the USS Cleveland. She then flew to Ecuador to meet Comfort, and from there she’s been to Columbia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Haiti. “Each country was so unique,” says Juhl, “We saw very unusual presentations among the people. In Columbia I saw an amazing 17 year-old boy with an amazing mesiodens. We offered to remove it for him, but it was special to him.” Not one to rest on her laurels, Juhl began a double Masters program upon returning from her work on the Comfort - in Dental Public Health and Dental Hygiene Education.
Those interested in participating in next year’s Continuing Promise mission can start by visiting the US Southern Command’s website at www.southcom.mil.
Dr. Von W Kuehn
Kuehn and his wife, Betty, began volunteering in Guatemala in the year 2000, as part of a Rotary International project. They have spent a month there each year and have been in charge of the program since 2002, with support from our Anacortes Rotary Club and many other donors. Working with two wonderful Guatemalan assistants, they load portable equipment in a truck each day and travel to the area villages. The Kuehn’s report that the opportunity to visit these communities, see their daily lives, observe family relationships, and be able to contribute something of real value to these people feels like a special privilege.
During the months when there is no dentist (about six months each year), the Guatemalan assistants visit the schools, and teach home care to students, teachers, and parents. They perform simple exams and prepare lists of the students needing the services of a dentist. Village visits are well-organized, and the Kuehns travel with two Adec dental units, plus a generator and all other necessary equipment to perform restorations and extractions for the children. Near the end of the day they also treat adults in the community who are in need of treatment, as time permits.
They have many returning dentists, but are always looking for new volunteers who would enjoy this unique experience. The living situation is a small house on the grounds of a mission, with food and laundry services provided by the mission staff. It is located north of Rio Dulce, in eastern Guatemala near the Caribbean, and is a tropical climate. The Kuehns prefer volunteers who can spend at least two weeks, and hopefully a month, since they are quite a distance from Guatemala City. Dentists must pay their own travel expenses. Once at the project, all food and lodging is provided, but donations and supplies are gratefully appreciated.
Are you interested in learning more about this volunteer experience? Contact Von and Betty at email@example.com, or call them at 360-293-6006.
Dr. John Deviny
For the seventh consecutive fall, the Olympia-Zihuatanejo Dental Partnership Project enjoyed a week-long visit to serve the poor in the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area working with the local health department and practicing dentists.
The group, which consisted of three dentists, a hygienist, and four assistants, delivered free emergency extraction services to children and adults in three different locations, seeing patients who came for relief of their pain and infection. Later, they established a childrens’ emergency clinic service for the students of the La Jolla School in Colonia Aqua de Correo. In total, 113 patients were seen, and 156 teeth were extracted during the week. Deviny says, “Always remember you are serving as guests and genuine partnerships and permissions are essential. Respect, organization, communication, cultural competency, and maintaining high standards of care will validate your presence and be your reward.”
The group is currently planning a March, 2012 visit, with the possibility of hosting a day and a half of Dental Continuing Education for visiting dentists and our dental colleagues in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. Interested parties can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Bryan Anderson
Anderson, a WSDA Board member, has made one trip to Papua New Guinea, and two to Borneo — all sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and coordinated by the local affiliated high school. The locations are chosen by the school, coordinating medical, dental and construction to impoverished communities across the globe.
Once there, they build at least one church for a local village, with students assisting by mixing cement, carrying and stacking bricks, finish roofing, and more.
Other groups will present Bible classes and help in the village, and others are rotated into the medical/dental setup to assist. Anderson says, “If they can handle heat, sweat, blood, flies, and horrible smells, then they can hold lighting, do retraction, replace gauze, and assist with sterilization. Those with a medical interest do well. Others may faint, become nauseated, and just decide that a medical profession is not for them.”
Like most others performing humanitarian dentistry in poor countries, Anderson says his work abroad was about 90 percent surgery and 10 percent restorative care. Anderson relates, “By far the biggest gain and impact is for my own sense of accomplishment. The procedures are very routine — done every day in practice. But the conditions make for unique complications. It teaches great patience and flexibility. I know the villagers are very happy to be out of pain, but I always feel like I gained the most from the trip.”