U of T students usher in VDO’s $2 million milestone
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | May 25, 2017|
As future dentists Alexandra Montian and Salvador Alcaire finished working on a patient last Friday, they quietly helped the Volunteer Dental Outreach for Haliburton County (VDO) ring in their seventh year of service and surpass the $2 million mark in free dental care.
While participating in a pilot project organized by the university’s dental outreach course, the two University of Toronto students, who have nearly 20 years of dental schooling combined and will be fully licensed June 9 after graduation, weren’t surprised by the rolling plains and tight-knit communities in the county.
But the volume of patients, who required critical dental work but couldn’t afford it, did.
“We weren’t expecting the high poverty levels,” Montian said, who alongside Alcaire, were the first to participate in the university-tied pilot project that is set to officially roll out in September.
The school’s dental department is expecting a report back from the pair upon their return.
Alcaire described the research the two of them had to do prior to their start in Haliburton last week. They also wrote an essay highlighting the overall social demographic and health care needs of the community.
“You see a lot of visits because of emergency pain and infections,” he said. “You think ‘Well, you live in Ontario so people have regular access to dental care,’ but there is actually this huge gap in service in some areas.”
Alcaire and Montian first heard about the program during their placement in Honduras, where they first met VDO’s William Kerr.
After discussing the potential of a pilot project in a rural setting for young dentists, the two were quickly convinced this was something they wanted to participate in.
“We were very determined to be a part of this,” Montian said, while praising VDO’s high-quality facility and equipment. “It’s very lucky that this place exists here.”
To date, VDO has scheduled 5,629 appointments for 713 patients.
The centre first opened May 19, 2011.
For more information, visit dental-outreach.com.
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.