Area dentists help ‘Give Kids A Smile’ just in time for the holidays

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Morgan Lutz, a dental hygiene student at Harcum College, goes over dental health instructions with Amy Castaneda, one of the students from the Kennett Consolidated School District who received free dental care, Friday.

WEST CHESTER — Dentists and dental office staff from around the Chester and Delaware counties area came together last week to donate their time, dental supplies and special skills to help underprivileged kids enjoy a healthier, happier smile, just in time for the holidays.

The annual Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) event — held at the Community Volunteers In Medicine (CVIM) facility — helped dozens of kids from southern Chester County, with exams, fillings and referrals for free specialist care, if needed.

This is event has been going on yearly for 20 years – a streak only interrupted by by the COVID-19 pandemic — helping hundreds of kids over that time. And a number of the dentists and staff at Friday’s event have been volunteering at the event since it started in 2003 — a source of well-deserved pride for area members of the Chester-Delaware Dental Society, who are well-known for their efforts to give back to the community.

The process is pretty straight forward, elementary kids are bused from their school district — in Friday’s case, it was the Kennett Consolidated School District — and come to the facility here in the borough. With their lunches pre-packed by the school district, the students get to enjoy fun activities — and some education on dental health — while waiting their turn to be seen in one of the seven CVIM operatories. Interpreters are on hand for those who do not speak English as their first language.

In the waiting area, a number of dental hygiene students from Harcum College engaged in dental health education with the kids — helping them to keep healthier between dental visits.

In all, 26 kids were seen on Friday — getting an estimated $16,020 worth of dental care and education. A few of the students, needing more extensive care, will be seen by volunteer specialists in the area in their local offices in the coming weeks.

A student gets dental care in the dental facility for Community Volunteers In Medicine, Friday.

Friday’s event was far from the lone event held regularly — a similar event for the county’s veterans in need is also held yearly. Additionally, many of the volunteers at the GKAS event volunteer for regular shifts at the CVIM dental facility — providing much-needed free dental care to populations around the county in need. Virtually of the equipment used was either donated by manufacturers or provided by the fundraising efforts of local organizations, such as local area Rotary Clubs.

And even that is a mere fraction of what CVIM does for the community on a daily basis. The office has full primary care facilities and a number of speciality facilities — manned by local health professionals, most of which are volunteers. There is even a full dispensary for those in need of prescription medications — the medicines are free, but people are encouraged to donate whatever they can afford. Those funds are used to purchase medications that CVIM cannot get donated. Notably, they do not offer any opioids.

Just to get a sense of how big an impact CVIM has on the greater community, in fiscal year 2022, 4,263 patients — 1,467 of them new patients — were seen, for a total of 39,241 visits. 30,556 prescriptions were filled — $3.9 million in free medications for those in need.

A total of 329 local medical professionals volunteered their time, giving the community 38,690 hours of service.

For Friday’s event, a number of local dentists stepped up to volunteer:

Volunteer dentists at the event included Drs. Haddy Alrez, Tami Brady, Jared Harris, Ron Heier, Yeslie Kim, Bernie Logan, Stephanie McGann, Merle Saldivar, and Hilda Villegas.

Drs. Ken Lee, Lindi Orlin, Allen Yang, and Sweta Shah have offered to perform pro bono endodontic therapy in their offices. Additionally, many staff members — dental assistants and hygienists came and gave their time as well.

Supply donations were given by Drs. Connie Greeley, Mary Jo Massaro, and Amy Shoumer.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment