NATION

Waikato Hospital Dental Staff To Help Fijians

Dr Marguerite Paterson is a dental surgeon at Waikato Hospital, but in late March next year she and six dental colleagues will be leaving behind the modern facilities of a
01 Nov 2014 16:43
Waikato Hospital Dental Staff To Help Fijians
The Waikato Hospital dental team from left: Shonal Stevhen, Graeme Jull, June Crawford, Sarah Twine and Andrea Champion. Absent: Marguerite Paterson and Ryan Smit. Photo: Sun Media

Dr Marguerite Paterson is a dental surgeon at Waikato Hospital, but in late March next year she and six dental colleagues will be leaving behind the modern facilities of a hospital in New Zealand for the challenges of a small village in rural Fiji.

It is the first mission for the Island Of Smiles Dental Charitable Trust, a voluntary group of dental health professionals, who all work in the Department of Oral Surgery, Maxillofacial, and Dental at Waikato Hospital.

The team of past and present house surgeons, dentists and dental assistants have the common goal of improving oral health in deprived and remote regions of the Pacific.

The trust is currently fundraising to cover the expected cost of $15,000 for the voluntary expedition, which will take them to the village of Daku in Viti Levu.

“We will have four days based in a hall with running water and electricity, which the village has made available for our use. We plan to treat 60 patients per day. Villagers and local schools will be aware that we are coming and when, so we can maximise the number of patients we see,” Dr Marguerite explains.

The team plans to adopt a “production line” delivery of treatment, with patients examined and then directed to the appropriate team member for treatment, including minor oral surgery (dental extractions) and restorative procedures.

Elders of the community will act as interpreters and assist in reassuring nervous patients.

“Our primary objective is to treat adults at our clinic, but our dental assistant Andrea Champion (a former dental therapist) will accompany a local contact on visits to local schools to educate both teachers and students on basic oral hygiene,” says Marguerite.

That education will cover healthy diet as well as introducing a lunchtime tooth brushing programme to each school, and provide them with basic dental hygiene packs.

“Dental education is the key,” she says, “and hopefully we can get the support of head teachers and elders to carry on when we have left so the next generation enjoys better dental health.”

It will be a challenging and  fascinating experience for the team of seven volunteers – house surgeons Dr Ryan Smit, Dr Marguerite Paterson, Dr Sarah Twine, senior dentist Dr Graeme Jull, dental assistants Shonal Stevhen and Andrea Champion, and head dental assistant/Island Of Smiles programme coordinator June Crawford.

The team will fly out of Auckland on March 27, 2015 and start the clinic in Daku on Sunday, March 29.

How can you help?

Islands Of Smile is a registered charitable trust. Donations for this project are most appreciated.

You can pay directly into the trust’s account: 12-3152-0148868-50

Or you can check the web page: http://www.givealittle.co.nz/member/Islandofsmiles1

Feedback:  newsroom@fijisun.com.fj

 

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