UBC Dentistry “Adopts” an Elementary School

Fall 2011

UBC Dentistry is addressing the oral health needs of some of the most vulnerable residents of East Vancouver. Florence Nightingale Elementary School, identified as one of 16 at-risk inner-city elementary schools, has been “adopted” by UBC Dentistry as the pilot location for its Adopt a School Program.

Through the program, a one-chair dental clinic has been installed in the school—a school with an astonishingly varied socio-economic and cultural footprint. This is a sustainable response to treat and educate school-age children most at risk for oral health neglect. Most children at Florence Nightingale do not have the opportunity to receive dental examinations and treatments. More than one in five children at the school has suspected tooth decay and oral disease.

According to Jenny Chin Petersen, the school principal, dental care has historically been the missing element in the drive to improve the overall wellness of students. However, this elementary school, with 250 students organized into 11 enrolling classes, is now home to a unique educational and service learning module supported by Dentistry’s DMD students, general practice residents and alumni volunteers.

Adopt a School - Florence Nightingale

“Many children at the school are suffering serious oral dental pain,” notes Dr. Christopher Zed, associate dean, Strategic and External Affairs. “Dentistry residents, students and faculty are very familiar with treating under-served communities and take this social responsibility very seriously.” The Adopt a School Program creates unique opportunities for children and their families to learn from UBC students about the techniques and benefits of oral care. Reduced sleep deprivation and absenteeism, as well as improved classroom attentiveness, are a few of the immediate benefits anticipated as a result of eliminating oral pain.

Vancouver School Board shared renovation costs for the clinic and waived all rental charges. There is an additional proposal by UBC Dentistry to use BC Healthy Kids Program basic dental services coverage to support the overhead costs. However, there remain signifi cant program costs associated with supplies, equipment and maintenance. The Adopt a School Program requires an annual funding commitment of approximately $30,000 to ensure the clinic is fully operational on a yearly basis.

If you are interested in supporting wellness and health education for school-age children and their families through this program at Florence Nightingale Elementary School, contact us.