Foundation Funds: Portable dental equipment a boon to Alaska villages

Posted on December 6, 2010 in Events

Thanks to a $37,500 donation from the Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation, students enrolled in ANTHC’s Dental Health Aide Training (DHAT) program are seeing more patients sooner.

DHAT students focus on community-level dental disease prevention for underserved Alaska Native populations. The curriculum incorporates innovative public health-related preventive and clinical strategies to address the vast unmet needs of the Alaska Native population. The DHAT curriculum is part of the Community Health Aide program, a network of about 500 community health aides/practitioners in more than 170 rural Alaska villages.

The Foundation’s donations went toward the purchase of portable dental equipment – a mobile dental operatory system, patient chairs, stools and other accessories. Alison Kaganak was among the first students to use the new equipment on a trip to Tuntutuliak, a Native village in southwest Alaska.

“I was amazed at how we were able to travel and actually bring a dental clinic with us. Even setting up and putting the equipment together was a breeze. As soon as we were set up, we were able to see patients right away,” she said.

Village travel is an integral part of DHAT training. DHAT students are trained to provide care in their home community, as well as travel to provide care to other villages in their regions. They provide fillings, stainless steel crowns and extractions, as well as preventive care.

Student Ferdella Sharp, who accompanied Alison to Tuntutuliak, said “we saw as many patients as we were able to in the one week we were in the village, but there were still many people calling to be seen, and asking when we will be back. Having our own portable dental equipment has made a big difference in our training program. It not only helps us to further our learning experience, but enables us to provide dental care for people in the villages.”

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For more information on ANTHC’s Dental Health Aide Training program, visit www.anthc.org/chs/chap/dhs/.

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