October 11, 2012
A newly remodeled and expanded dental clinic recently opened at an elementary school serving primarily low-income children in Richmond, Calif. It is hoped that the clinic, which is based at Peres Elementary School, will be a model for other schools in the district to offer expanded health services to students.
The clinic was updated using a $500,000 investment from Measure D, a school construction bond passed in 2010. The project was spearheaded by Charles Ramsey, president of the Western Contra Costa Unified School District, who believed that good dental health for students is critical.
The clinic will be run by Dr. Daniel Tanita '73, an alumnus from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and a board member of the Pacific Dugoni Foundation. The clinic will be managed with support from local volunteer dentists, dental hygienists and staff.
Tanita is no stranger to the concept of dental care at elementary schools. In 1989 he was recruited to provide basic preventative care to students at Richmond public schools. In 1997 he founded a small clinic in a former janitorial closet at Peres Elementary School and ran it on a part-time basis for several years until he was forced to close it due to lack of funding.
"Some of the kids we used to refer out would fall through the cracks and not get the work done," said Tanita in a recent Contra Costa Times article highlighting the clinic's opening. "Now we can make sure they get everything they need right here."
The 400-square-foot clinic will allow for Tanita and his staff to provide comprehensive dental care to a projected 552 school children. It has four computers and two state-of-the-art dental stations with new imaging systems.
Now that the Peres clinic is complete, the district will begin construction on a similar facility at Coronado Elementary near downtown Richmond, also using money from Measure D.
A report published by the Surgeon General states that "tooth decay is reported as the most common chronic childhood illness, with 51 million school hours lost to dental-related illness each year." On-campus dental clinics like the Peres Elementary School Dental Clinic can help make sure student learning isn't hindered by poor dental health.
Community members gathered at a Sept. 28 ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the updated clinic. Tanita received a plaque recognizing his involvement and commemorating the naming of the clinic in his honor. Event organizers also acknowledged a wide range of community supporters, including dental volunteers such as Dr. Michael Stokes; Dr. Hass Abar '99, '01 Ortho; Dr. Dalia Perez-Salinas '90 IDS; Dr. Hercules Morphopoulos; Denise Navarro, Melinda Pinlac, Egda Haro, Ana Mendoza and Jenny Qian Zhang.
Category Type: Community Outreach, Special Events, Honors and Awards
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