CHICAGO HEIGHTS | On a typical Friday in August you would expect most college age students headed to the beach or the mall.
But on Aug. 2, 10 Prairie State College dental hygiene students and two of their professors and a supervising dentist were volunteering at the PSC Dental Hygiene Clinic. The clinic is located at the college’s main campus.
The patients were seven children visiting the United States from two Ukrainian orphanages. Most of the children, ranging in age from 6 to 15, had never received any type of dental care before.
The college had received a request to provide dental services to the seven children who were staying with area families connected to several local churches. Dental hygiene professors Barb Kelly-Gorbitz and Dolores Ickis, dental hygiene program chair, decided it would be a great community service effort for the dental hygiene students. They requested volunteers and 10 students agreed to assist.
Dr. Susan Biegel, the program’s supervising dentist, volunteered her services. The children received X-rays, cleaning, dental exams, and sealants if necessary. The services were all free of charge. The dental records and medical information will be sent with the children when they return to the Ukraine.
“Had the faculty and students in the dental hygiene program not volunteered their time and service, the expenses incurred would have been covered by the host families. This burden would be in addition to numerous other expenses and the dental check-ups might not have been possible,” PSC board of trustees Chair Jacqueline Agee said.
The students who volunteered included Jessica Fitzgerald, Pavielle Escobedo, Kat Marcus, Katherine Fawkes, Stephanie Stellete, Nina Degan-Lentz, Jessica Fitsgerald, Maria Vega, Jessica Moziewicz and Desiree Kirsch.
The children’s visit was sponsored by Love Cradle International which worked with four area churches and several host families. The children are visiting for about four weeks and one condition of their visit was to make sure they received dental care. Since many of the children will require additional dental services, area dentists were being contacted to see if they could provide follow up care for the children.
“Our goal was to do as much as we could during the screening at the clinic, and then see if we could get them into area dentists so they can receive follow-up care. We will make sure to package their dental records and send them with them when they return to the orphanage,” Kelly-Gorbitz said.
When asked if it was difficult to find students to volunteer during the summer for this special clinic day, she responded it was not hard at all.
“We had no trouble at all finding willing students to come in on a Friday in the summer. They were all very responsive,” Kelly-Gorbitz said.
The program at PSC leads to an associate in applied science degree. It prepares graduates to provide services that assist patients in the prevention of oral diseases and maintenance of optimal oral health. The program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and the American Dental Association and meets State of Illinois Board of Dentistry guidelines for the dental hygiene education.