Health Outreach

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CONTACT INFORMATION

T: 905.567.8899
F: 905.567.9097

info@healthoutreach.ca
117 Queen St. South, Unit 2
Mississauga,  ON L5M 6B5

A TYPICAL CHARITY DENTAL PROJECT TO GUATEMALA INVOLVES THE FOLLOWING:
  1. Every Health Outreach project attempts to provide educational, preventative as well as urgent care services directly in remote areas with unmet healthcare needs.
  2. Our organization is unique in that teams operate in small groups in remote communities. It has always been our objective to help people in areas where healthcare is inaccessible. This is challenging because of the logistical difficulties in traveling to remote areas.
  3. We operate out of small clinics in rural communities. The temporary dental clinic usually has one or two dental units, a sterilization area, a generator and a permanent water supply. Running water and electricity has been available on most occasions. The equipment is basic but operational. The dental materials we bring are of good quality. It satisfies more than our needs since only basic dentistry is being performed.
  4. On occasions when water and electricity is not available, an attempt to care for people in need is still made. Dental treatment options in this case would include dental extractions, medication, and education for self-care. Public health lectures to children at schools and parents are also done.
  5. Each clinic has a supervisor/administrator, interpreter, receptionist/educator, chair-side dental assistant, sterilization assistant, oral hygiene educator, a dentist and a hygienist. Each team member has a defined role. Some qualified team members often take multiple roles depending on need. Community leaders who wish to contribute also take on roles.
  6. Community members often fill the role of administrator since they often personally know patients who arrive for care. The chair-side assistant would assist the dentist with all procedures. The sterilization assistant receives dirty instruments from the clinical side and returns sterile instruments. The oral hygiene educator demonstrates correct brushing techniques, dispenses toothbrushes and gives out toys for good behavior after a dental procedure.
  7. All attempts are made to perform procedures with safety and respect for individuals. Important sterilization procedures are followed. This includes physical barriers such as gloves and masks as well as chemical means in the form of heat/pressure sterilizers. A medical history is taken from each patient on a written form or verbally from a translator. Avoiding medical complications such as allergic reactions and excessive bleeding is still ever so important. We realize the severe consequences if a patient had complications arising from charity health care procedure. The reputation of the organization and other charities in general would be jeopardized.
  8. There is an emphasis on preventative care on all projects. We realize that learning preventative techniques will help families more than anything else in preventing dental disease. We always teach all children the importance of dental hygiene as well as correct use of toothbrush. To introduce dental care and encourage it at home, handouts are distributed to the parents. Handouts were typewritten in Spanish with specific instructions on how to properly brush teeth and information on identifying and treating gum disease. The goal is for parents to read the literature and reinforce good habits at home.
  9. Usually, we perform public health speeches for school children. This often takes place in areas that are too remote to treat patients adequately. The event often becomes a screening to identify those with emergency or urgent problems for appointments. Our objectives are to teach the children oral hygiene, perform dental screenings, and advise the teacher on supporting oral hygiene and observing the signs of urgent dental problems.
  10. No fees are ever collected from patients.
WHAT A VOLUNTEER CAN EXPECT ON ONE OF OUR PROJECTS:
  1. We leave Toronto, Ontario on Saturday  and fly to Guatemala City. The arrival time is usually 1 pm. Adventure Travel is the supporting travel agency in Guatemala. We are picked up and driven to our ultimate destination that same day.
  2. Living quarters vary according to the location of the community that we service. It has varied from small beds under bug nets to rooms with fireplaces. We arrange for breakfasts ourselves. The local people sometimes provide us with lunch as an act of gratitude.
  3. We start work as soon as possible, as long as the equipment is set up and functioning. We generally start at 8 am when it is cooler. Sometimes we break for lunch and continue until 4 pm. If the facilities and heat are unbearable, we often work through lunch and stop at 1 or 2 pm.
  4. Usually we have materials waiting for us. However, it is often stale-dated. We never depend on existing clinics to have fresh local anesthetic, restorative material or medicine. These items are always brought.
  5. We generally work out of small rooms typically used as medical clinics. Consequently, the dental equipment is lacking. We bring portable dental equipment and donated supplies.
  6. After a celebratory Saturday evening party, we pack for departure on Sunday morning.
  7. One of the most significant acts during a project is simply being there. For many, it is sometimes the first dental visit and the most significant one they will ever have. Our presence instills a feeling of hope and positivity to individuals and isolated communities.

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