Camosun’s dental hygiene program donates thousands of toothpaste packages to local charities
Release date: May 21, 2020
Faced with a stockpile of dental supplies that would otherwise go to waste, staff in Camosun’s dental program decided to help local charities promote good oral health during the pandemic.
“Normally at this time of year we would have seen hundreds of community clients by now,“ explains dental programs instructional assistant Kiran Kshatriya. “Every time someone comes in for care by our students in our public community clinic we give them a kit with toothpaste, toothbrush and floss. Of course, right now, that is not possible.”
In mid-March, all client care provided by students in the Camosun College Dental Clinic was suspended by public health order to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
With thousands of toothpaste tubes in unopened boxes set to expire in August, Camosun staff decided to put them to good use in the community, where the need right now is greatest.
“I think one of the concerns is we normally see so many clients, and would have by now,” says Kshatriya. “So now many of these children and parents and adults are going without any oral health care and or someone supporting them about their oral healthcare.”
Kshatriya, along with Penny McGregor and Michelle Oakley (Dental Program Clinic Supervisors), and Tatum Whalen (Lab Clerk) worked closely to handle the logistics of transportation and delivery, conscious of the need for hygienic product distribution and physical distancing.
“We wore masks and loaded the boxes into the back of our cars and used gloves the whole time, all to ensure they were sterile and covid-free,” says Kshatriya. “When I arrived, I stayed in my car and opened my trunk, so the fellow didn’t have to touch anything, and I brought a clean pair of gloves for him as well.”
Thousands of toothpastes were donated to three local partners, including 1,800 to the Dandelion Society, 720 to the Mustard Seed Food Bank, and hundreds more to Island Health’s Mental Health & Substance Use Program. All together, the donations are going to children and adults facing a number of health and other barriers, many of whom experiencing precarious health or living situations.
“Toothpaste is such an important item, and sadly one often people don’t think of,” says Jeremy Vargas, Donor Relations Coordinator at the Mustard Seed. “These donations are so appreciated.”
“For over 40 years, Camosun’s dental program has long been connected to the community annually helping thousands of low income clients, re-settled refugee families, and clients ranging in age from children to seniors,” says Mandy Hayre, Chair of Camosun’s Dental Department. “I’m so proud of our team stepping up to help out in creative ways during these challenging times.”
“Supporting the community any way we can helps us give so much back, because without them, our public clinic program wouldn’t be as successful,” explains Kshatriya. “Our community run clinics are supervised under licenced faculty, and our students gain essential experience with client care and oral health, which allows them to graduate as proficient practitioners. The help is very mutual and I’m really proud of that.”
With the success of the current donations, plans are in the works to carry on into the future. “It’s a really good feeling seeing the impact our donations are making,” says Kshatriya. “When we have extra supplies and we know there are people in our community who can’t afford toothpaste, one hundred percent we’re going to continue helping our community partners.”
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Camosun’s dental hygiene program donates thousands of toothpaste packages to local charities. Here, the team from the Victoria Dandelion Society, led by Rev. Al Tysick (right) receives Camosun’s donations with gratitude.
Last updated: May 21, 2020 10:49 am