Pacific Health Professions, Optometry Students Give Area Kids Reason to Smile
Children in western Washington County received much-needed health services on Feb. 3, when Pacific University faculty, staff and students volunteered for the annual Give Kids a Smile event at the university’s Hillsboro Campus.
An initiative of the American Dental Association, Give Kids a Smile is a nationwide endeavor intended to provide preventative care and treatment to children who do not regularly receive dental care.
The Pacific University School of Dental Hygiene Studies hosts an event annually in partnership with the Washington County Dental Society. This year, Pacific dental hygiene students, faculty and staff joined WCDS-member dentists, hygienists and assistants to provide cleaning and preventative and restorative services to 85 children from throughout the local region. Child patients received a total of 553 dental treatments valued at $44,045.
Additionally, parents also received complimentary dental screenings in the university's new SmileCare van, a dental health mobile clinic administered by the School of Dental Hygiene Studies.
“I am so thankful to all of the volunteers who contributed to this event," said Kathryn Bell, an assistant professor in the School of Dental Hygiene Studies and event coordinator. "Our community dental professionals contributed many hours and their valuable skills to treat the children we saw."
For the second consecutive year, Give Kids A Smile at Pacific was truly interprofessional in nature, as students, faculty and staff from School of Audiology and the College of Optometry followed the dental screenings and treatments with complimentary hearing and vision screenings.
In all, 54 children received hearing screenings valued at $7,830, and 53 received vision screenings, including 19 who underwent comprehensive pediatric eye exams in the College of Optometry EyeVan mobile clinic that was on site.
Additionally, optometry students used state-of-the-art equipment to make nine pairs of eyeglasses for those who needed them. Among the notable moments of the day-long event was the diagnosis of a 12-year-old boy who was discovered to have a previously undiagnosed form of severe farsightedness. Thanks to the teamwork of four students and a licensed optometrist faculty member, the boy received a timely diagnosis and corrective lenses to help him see.
“I was so impressed and proud of our team for the significant impact we made on the boy's life,” said Dr. Sarah Martin, community outreach director in the College of Optometry.
Bell noted the collaboration between the School of Dental Hygiene Studies, the College of Optometry and the School of Audiology was key to the event's success.
"Give Kids a Smile would not have been nearly as successful without the support of the School of Audiology and College of Optometry," Bell said, adding that all participating students benefited from the collaborative clinical experience as much as the patients benefited from the care.
"The many hours of volunteer work contributed by everyone involved indicates a serious commitment to community service and a passion for helping others — qualities that exemplify the spirit of Pacific University,” Bell said.