OHSU School of Dentistry All About Service

OHSU School of Dentistry All About Service

Gary ChiodoApril 15, 2013

Dear School of Dentistry community,

OHSU School of Dentistry is committed to community service. As a public health dentist, who spent decades at the Russell Street Dental Clinic in north Portland caring for underserved and medically-complex patients, most significantly, at the start and through the height of the AIDS epidemic, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dental school students, staff, and faculty demonstrate their commitment to Oregon’s communities every day whether on rural rotations, in the Medical Teams International mobile dental clinic, spearheading events for children, serving at the Oregon Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy, or caring for patients in one of our clinics.

Rural Rotations. We are proud that all 75 of our doctor of dental medicine graduates this year will have spent at least one-week seeing patients in one of 20 community-based or rural dental sites, with most students completing two or more rotations. The push toward service is undoubtedly paying off. When I graduated from dental school 35 years ago, only one student elected to go into public health dentistry as a career—me. For the past few years, about 10 students have selected public health for their dental career.

Medical Teams International mobile dental clinic. Dental students and faculty regularly team to reach people in underserved areas of Oregon. This month, we’ll be in Salem providing free cleanings for several dozen high-school students from low-income families, many of whom have never seen a dentist.

National Children’s Dental Health month.  Our dental students coordinated a handful of events this year to reach out to underserved children from Cornelius Elementary (screenings), Portland-area Boys and Girls Clubs (oral care), Buckman Arts Elementary (sealants), and thousands of other children who visited the Portland Children’s Museum in early March when we were there for eight hours conducting screenings and supervising hands-on events to make dentistry fun.

Mission of Mercy. OHSU School of Dentistry students, staff, faculty, and alumni have volunteered at Mission of Mercy every year. When the event has been in Portland, several hundred dental students have been excused from class to volunteer for this important event, and 2013 (Nov. 25 to 26 at the Oregon Convention Center) will be no different.

Russell Street Dental Clinic. In 2012, we provided $1.5 million in uncompensated care to about 2,600 low-income and medically compromised patients who visited the Russell Street Dental Clinic more than 8,000 times. This is an important rotation not only for our dental students, but for local dental hygiene students with whom we enjoy a collaborative relationship.

Pre-doctoral and Graduate clinics. Many of our patients in the pre-doctoral clinic do not have health insurance and are low income. In FY 2011-12, $475,000 of uncompensated care was provided for Medicaid and Medicare patients (the difference between the school’s lower-than-private-practice fees and what is covered by Medicare and Medicaid) in the school’s pre-doctoral and graduate clinics, with another $120,000 of patient care fees not collected due to inability to pay. I am extremely proud that our students recently revived a Patient Assistance Program to help subsidize 50 percent of the cost of services for qualifying patients who cannot afford the cost of care.

We are currently exploring partnerships with community clinics in Gresham, northeast and southeast Portland, LaGrande, Albany, Port Orford, and Klamath Falls, and anticipate a number of new community collaborations when we move into our new building in 2014 on Portland’s South Waterfront.

These are just a few of the ways OHSU School of Dentistry is making a difference in the community. There are many more, too numerous to list in a short column, but we invite you to join us in these ventures.

Gary Chiodo Signature

Gary Chiodo, D.M.D. `78, F.A.C.D.
OHSU School of Dentistry Interim Dean