Guest blog by A.S.B. Dental Clinic Founder, Dr. Steve Burgart
In 2017, Dr. Steve Burgart made multiple trips to Borgne, Haiti to provide much-needed care, training, and supplies to the A.S.B. (Borgne Health Alliance) dental clinic. Over the last several years, Dr. Burgart has worked to expand the range of dental services offered at A.S.B.
Dr. Burgart shares some insights on the importance of dental charity care in this community, as well as some recommendations for those looking to get involved:
What role does technology play in providing care to this community?
Dr. Burgart: I wanted to create a first-world dental facility in a third-world context. Where ever possible, the clinic employs state-of-the-art technology like the Cerec AC. This is a computer system that produces impressions of teeth, digitally. A doctor takes pictures of the patient’s teeth, and images are sent to the computer where they are compiled to produce a 3-dimentional, digital model that can be manipulated on-screen to adjust minute details of the impression. This allows the doctor to shape the crown appropriately, with respect to the form of the surrounding teeth and jaw. The digital model is then sent to another machine that mills the crown, which is then finished by hand. Only about 10% of dental offices in the United States have access to this technology. The Cerec AC at A.S.B is the only piece of its kind in northern Haiti, if not the whole country. Thanks to the Cerec AC and other technology available at A.S.B., instead of losing all badly damaged teeth to extraction, patients in the poor, rural commune can now permanently save their teeth. We also provide root canals, fill cavities, and clean teeth using the latest technology.
How can we extend the reach of our efforts beyond the short visit?
Dr. Burgart: Education is a big component. For example, the clinic also supports the S.E.E. Fanm program. Pregnant women go to have their teeth cleaned and receive information about the importance of oral health during pregnancy. We do oral health education sessions at the beginning of clinics at the hospital, in Tibouk, and at all mobile clinics. Oral health is a totally new concept to the people in rural areas and ours is the only dental clinic in the rural north.
Another example that comes to mind is the work being done by Dr. Don Safferstein. He accompanied me on a trip in October of 2017 and is already planning his next trip. He plans to bring a hygienist who works for his office: a Haitian-American with roots in Haitian culture and fluency in Haitian Creole. Together, they will develop a prevention campaign with outreach efforts to distribute hygienic materials like tooth brushes and educate the local community about the importance of dental hygiene. With these efforts, Dr. Safferstein hopes to prevent tooth and gum diseases that are prevalent among patients in the commune before patients must undergo extraction, root canals, and other painful procedures.
How can others get involved in providing much-needed dental charity care to Haiti?
Dr. Burgart: There are several ways to get involved. One way would be to come on a trip with me to provide care directly to the community at the A.S.B. dental clinic. Over the last eight years, several people have accompanied me:
Dr Jose Garcia, DDS, Miami
Dr William Hutt, DDS, Rochester
Dr Joseph Gambacorta, DDS, Buffalo
John Thomkins, Pharmacist, Mendon
Mollie Warunek, NP, Buffalo
My whole family: Liz, Mike, Chris, Kelly, Taylor
Anna Braun, Rochester
Katie Cutting, RN
Another way to get involved would be to send money to H.O.P.E. Haiti via the website hopehaiti.org.
About Dr. Steve Burgart
Dr. Steve Burgart received his D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree from SUNY @ Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 1982. While there, he earned the Edward Jauck Award in Comprehensive Dentistry. In addition to his practice in Rochester, New York, Dr. Burgart is involved in a number of organizations including the ADA, NYS Dental Association, Seventh District Dental Society, Monroe County Dental Society, Pierre Fauchard Academy, and International College of Dentists. Dr. Burgart is the current Dental Director for H.O.P.E. Haiti in Borgne, Haiti.
About H.O.P.E. Haiti
Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa (H.O.P.E.) is a non-profit organization established in 1996 to support the efforts of the people of Borgne, Haiti as they seek to improve their community’s wellbeing. In 2006, H.O.P.E formed Alyans Sante Borgne/Borgne Health Alliance (A.S.B.), a partnership between H.O.P.E. and Haiti’s Ministry of Health/ Northern Department MSPP/DSN.
For thousands of Borgne residents there is now access to professional dentistry and preventive care. The A.S.B. dental clinic opened in 2012 and is staffed by a full-time dentist, Dr. Ruthza, and an intern; plus the efforts of several in-service dental visits from U.S. volunteer dentists.
In the summer of 2014, with the support of WomenStrong International (WSI), H.O.P.E./A.S.B. took a major step in its ability to address women’s health. WSI’s mission is to empower women and support programs that improve women’s lives and that of their children and communities. The objective of the partnership with WSI is to assemble under one umbrella all H.O.P.E./A.S.B. programs that target women across the age spectrum and the name of this program, S.E.E. Fanm, aptly reflects this holistic approach—Sante/Health, Edikasyon/Education, Ekonomi/Economy for Fanm/Women.
To learn more, visit: http://www.hopehaiti.org
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