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New Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center Planned in San Francisco

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry has been awarded $350,000 by the Herbst Foundation to build a new ambulatory surgery center at its San Francisco campus to increase access to oral health care for low-income and historically underserved populations. Expected to open in summer 2024, the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS) SurgiCenter will initially serve more than 150 patients per year, a number that will increase as its care team expands. The center will reach a number of patient populations including children, older adults and people with intellectual and development disabilities who require deep sedation and general anesthesia to facilitate their dental/surgical care.

“Building out an accredited OMS SurgiCenter will enable our OMS department to significantly expand our surgical services to include procedures that are normally performed in a hospital operating room,” said Dr. David Lam, associate dean for medical integration and professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 

The 1,800-square-foot OMS SurgiCenter will feature a dedicated reception area, a pre-op consultation room, three operating rooms, a post-anesthesia recovery unit, a pharmacy/dispensary area and a supply management space. Dental students, residents and interns will rotate through the center assisting with surgical, sedation and perioperative medical evaluative patient care.“Oral and maxillofacial surgery centers in an academic setting are rare; only a few exist on the East Coast and none in Northern California,” said Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, dean and vice provost. “This generous grant from the Herbst Foundation will go a long way in supporting care for underserved people in California and training the next generation of dental and medical providers.”

$1 Million Endowed Scholarship to Support Students 

The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of California, has awarded a $1 million gift to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry to support future scholarships for deserving dental students. 

The gift establishes the Delta Dental Endowed Scholarship for Opportunity. The fund is designed to support students who have demonstrated high academic achievement while having experienced financial disadvantage or hardship, or who may be overcoming other difficult circumstances in their lives. Scholarships will be awarded to a minimum of two dental students each year, with a preference for students who have demonstrated interest in working in underserved communities.

“We are proud to partner with University of Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and support their mission to educate and train the next generation of dental practitioners,” said Kenzie Ferguson, vice president of the foundation and the corporate social responsibility program at Delta Dental of California. “The partnership helps us achieve our broader mutual goals of bettering the oral health and wellness of our communities by fostering greater inclusivity and increasing educational opportunities for those training for careers in the dental field.”

Symposium Explores How to Reduce Inequities in Oral Health Care

Healthcare practitioners, educators and leaders from across the country gathered at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry for the “Dentistry as Participant and Casualty of Racism and Bias in Medicine: Moving Toward Equity in Oral Health Care” symposium hosted on January 20 by the Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care.

The gathering was among the first events of its kind in dental education to explore the structural disparities in oral health care through the intersection of racism, ageism, ableism, sexism/gender bias and other inequities.

“Our goal is to understand the history and consequences of systemic racism and bias in health care and engage participants in identifying strategies and steps that could be used in dental practice, research, education and healthcare policy to advance equity for all members of our communities,” said Dr. Elisa Chávez, symposium organizer and director of the Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care. 

Guest speakers included experts in medicine, dentistry, policy and other fields, and included  representatives from University of the Pacific, UCLA, UCSF, Boston University, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and the Society for Women’s Health Research. Speakers highlighted some of the inequities experienced across health care that are grounded in racism or bias. Following the morning presentations, attendees gathered for an afternoon of roundtable discussions and the development of a plan to close the gaps. Action items from the discussions will be compiled into a follow-up “call to action” report that will be posted on the Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care website.

Volunteers Provide Care for Homeless, Disabled and Veterans 

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, students and faculty from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry returned to Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on December 14, 2022 to participate in San Francisco’s Project Homeless Connect (PHC), resuming a tradition of service going back many years. 

Volunteers cared for several dozen homeless individuals who received free dental screenings and basic oral health care. Dental services are the most requested services by PHC attendees, reflecting the great need for oral health care among people experiencing homelessness.

“The Dugoni School established a partnership with Project Homeless Connect back in 2007. It is very rewarding to see our students engaged in a unique community oral health program with our long-standing collaborators at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco Dental Society and PHC,” said Christine Miller, associate professor and director of community health programs.

In early February 2023, the Dugoni School of Dentistry and its Union City Dental Care Center partnered with the Southern Alameda County Dental Society to organize two back-to-back outreach events for the community. “Give Special Kids a Smile” on February 3 provided screenings, cleanings and other care for children and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities while “Give Veterans a Smile” on February 4 offered free screenings, cleanings and care for U.S. military veterans of all ages. Nearly $70,000 in services were provided, from dental  restorations and extractions to fillings and denture repairs. Patients also received free oral health kits.

“We’re glad we found this clinic because our clients who have developmental disabilities have a very hard time finding dentists,” said Judy Miramontes, who works at an intermediate care facility in Freeport, California.

Leane Perry brought her adult son Joshua who had been unable to see a dentist, largely due to the pandemic. “This is the first time he’s had a cleaning in years, and he got a tooth fixed,” she said. “Everyone was patient. It was an amazing experience.”

Therapy dogs and a therapy pony were on hand to put patients at ease. “Especially for kids who have an intellectual disability, it’s a very emotional experience because they can have difficulty processing things,” said Dr. Debra Woo ’86, director of operations for the Advanced Education in General Dentistry program. “The therapy animals soften the atmosphere. Kids who are withdrawn start interacting with the animals, then they sit in the chair and the animal sits next to them in the operatory. It’s an amazing transformation.”