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Helping Hands: Pacific Students and Faculty Provide Dental Care at Project Homeless Connect

Volunteers screen a Project Homeless Connect patient.

October  07, 2011

Students and faculty from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry went to Bill Graham Civic Auditorium early in the morning on Oct. 5 to participate in San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event. Throughout the day students worked to provide free dental screenings and basic care to homeless individuals. Patients with more complex dental needs were taken to the dental school's clinic for treatment.

PHC is a city-supported program which takes place at various locations in San Francisco several times each year. It serves thousands of people who receive free medical and dental care, mental health services, haircuts, employment, legal counseling, food and a variety of other services.

By the end of the day on Oct. 5, dental school volunteers had screened and provided referrals to over 250 people at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.  Those needing immediate complex care (such as extractions) were given the opportunity to take a shuttle to the Dugoni School of Dentistry for on-site procedures.

In total, 34 homeless patients were treated at the school's oral surgery clinic, resulting in 100-plus extracted teeth and more than $20,000 worth of donated care. The great success of this PHC event was in part due to the collaboration between the dental school, members of the San Francisco Dental Society, local dentists and health care agencies, who all volunteered for the cause.

"The homeless population of San Francisco is in such great need and it's easy for those who want to help to feel overwhelmed and wonder what can be done," said Kevin Walker, Class of 2012 and Pacific's current PHC lead. "Project Homeless Connect is an incredible event that provides crucial services to the homeless that they could not access otherwise."

He added, "I overheard one woman at the event say, 'When I heard that there was another Project Homeless Connect coming up, it gave me hope and helped me make it through.' We feel privileged to contribute to this noble effort."

During PHC's events, participants are able to accomplish in one day what might normally take eight months. Numerous corporations, nonprofits, schools and government agencies provide PHC and its clients with services. In response to the changing needs of the homeless and low-income population, PHC has continued to reshape its outreach strategy and improve available services, hosting events specifically designed for veterans, families and children.

The Dugoni School of Dentistry has participated in Project Homeless Connect events since 2007. PHC has two more events scheduled for the 2011 calendar year: Nov. 9 (Veterans Connect) and Dec. 14. To learn more and to see a list of community partners involved, visit http://www.projecthomelessconnect.com/home/partners.

Category Type: Special Events, Community Outreach

Contact:  Office of Public Relations, 415.929.6434, pr@pacific.edu