Foreign service special care opportunity in SCDA

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A foreign service clinic in Guatemala caring for patients with special needs was initiated by joining SCDA efforts with the Open Wide Foundation. The trip included five SCDA members: two AEGD residents and three support staff. Open Wide participants included the Executive Director, the Clinical Director in Guatemala, as well as two dentists, dental support staff, and Guatemalan dental students. Two physician anesthesiologists provided general anesthesia. Care adjuncts included general anesthesia, oral sedation, and medical stabilization. Lessons learned: (1) Conducting a dental clinic for patients with special needs is possible and relatively easy to accomplish, given a partnership with a foundation that agrees with and facilitates this service; (2) advance planning is required to maximize the service provided; (3) committed and flexible team members can accomplish a significant amount of care in a short period of time; and (4) limited but invaluable training of in-country healthcare providers is possible.The Special Care Dentistry Association is long known for service and care delivery to patients with special needs by its members, and for its advocacy and organizational support for these activities. A foreign service opportunity in Guatemala, Central America, was sought out by members of the SCDA to further the outreach efforts of the organization, give members clinical experience in a foreign setting, and train in-country providers to deliver care to patients with special needs. This was the first effort by SCDA members to host a clinic to deliver care specifically to patients with special needs outside of North America.

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