Trinity Dental Clinic (95210)
Something as simple as a visit to the dentist's office is a godsend in Liberia, where lack of dental care can turn deadly. Since 2008, the Trinity Dental Clinic has filled a gap in the healthcare system of this war-torn nation, where there are only seven dental health providers for the population of 4 million.
The need is great. Most Liberians do not have access to preventative or even acute dental healthcare, leaving them vulnerable to disease brought on by abscessed teeth, and decaying jawbones caused by chronic infections. Without treatment, some will die.
Sadly, most of these critical problems could have been prevented with a simple cavity filling and patient education about basic oral hygiene.
Each day, the four-room clinic, located on the outskirts of Monrovia at the Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) Hospital, provides teeth cleaning and dental services such as fillings and extractions for about 25 men, women and children. Even in the simplest cases, patients experience an improvement in their overall health once their oral hygiene problems are solved.
Starting from Nothing
The Trinity Dental Clinic was established after founders Frieda Schmidt, a dental therapist, and Keith Chapman, a dentist, came to Liberia with the Mercy Ship. They felt compelled to return long term due to the serious problems they saw, and the complete absence of dental providers for the average Liberian. SIM welcomed their proposal to establish the clinic at ELWA Hospital, which had offered dental services in the past.
Chapman and Schmidt had to provide on the job training for their employees just to begin to serve patients. They instilled a culture of concern and compassion, as well as high professional standards in their providers.
In 2011 and 2012, employees Eddie Maquie and Matilda Dorgbah were sent to India for intensive training as Dental Practitioners. They are able to do extractions, fillings, root canals, fittings for dentures and immobilization and fixation, but their skills are not on par with a fully trained dentist.
Therefore, without a dentist on the staff at this time, the clinic is not able to help patients with the most severe cases of infection who require surgery and other aggressive procedures. The general surgeons of ELWA Hospital are serving some of those patients if they can, but a full-time dentist is desperately needed.
Trinity Dental Clinic sponsors a Dental Health educator who visits schools to teach children about oral hygiene and the work of the dental providers. She taught 487 classes at 79 schools in 2015.
In the upcoming five years, the Clinic staff wishes to operate mobile clinics in the outskirts of Monrovia and adjacent counties. Mobile dental chairs will be set up in a community health center so that they can provide services such as cleaning, extractions and fillings to people who cannot travel to ELWA Hospital.
Trinity Dental Clinic seeks to keep their prices as low as possible so that their services are accessible to anyone who needs them. However, patient fees only cover a portion of the expenses of the clinic. Committed partners are needed to support the maintenance of dental equipment and provide supplies.
Patients who come to the clinic with the worst problems are often in the most desperate need. Because they have not had money to see the dentist, they have neglected their problem until they could no longer bear the pain. These patients often need assistance with their bill.
In addition, funds will be needed to sponsor the outreach clinics, which would charge the patients a nominal fee. When you invest in the Trinity Dental Clinic, you will be helping to keep the cost of procedures low, so Liberians can afford them and have a higher chance of coming to the dentist as soon as they have a problem. In this way, your contribution could even saving a life.
Go ServeTrinity Dental Clinic is seeking a dentist, hygienists, and prosthetic lab technicians who are willing to improve the skills of Liberian providers in their fields. For more information go here: SIM-Liberia Opportunities.
Abraham finds healingIn recent years, motorbike taxis or "pan-pan" have become an important means of transportation, especially off the main arteries in Monrovia. Unfortunately, because drivers and passengers seldom wear head protection, motorbike accidents often cause serious injuries. In a seven week period in 2015, Dental Therapist Eddie Maquie of the Trinity Dental Clinic treated four patients who had to have their jaw wired shut so that they could recover from broken mandibles caused by motorbike accidents.
Abraham, a 23-year-old pan-pan driver who lives near ELWA Hospital, came to the clinic in September, about a week after his accident. His jaw was completely unstable because it had been broken on both sides. It would never function properly again without an Immobilization and Fixation therapy (IMF) for at least 6 weeks. He was in great pain.
But Abraham had no way to pay for this therapy. He came that day with just 50 Liberian dollars, about 45 US cents, in his pocket, and he had no family to help him. When Eddie explained what he needed, and how much it would cost, he felt hopeless.
After Eddie stepped out of the room, Abraham told the assistant his situation. In fact, he told the assistant that if the dental clinic could not find a way to help him, he was going to kill himself, because he could not bear the injury any longer and he had nothing to live for. The assistant was compelled to share Abraham's confession with Eddie, who says "it really got his attention," that the young man would be so hopeless to feel he should take his own life if he could not get his jaw fixed.
The clinic found a way to provide the IMF therapy for Abraham so that his jaw could heal and function properly. Six weeks later, the smile of this young Muslim man was restored, and he knew that it had been done for him in the name of Jesus.
Donations to Trinity Dental Clinic make it possible to help people like Abraham, who cannot afford a major therapy in the case of an accident or infection. Imagine if he had not told the dental assistant about his intention or if there had not been a way to provide him with assistance. Enough lives have been lost in Liberia in recent years, it was a blessing to the staff to know that they had saved one.
Project Number: 95210 Current Funding Progress:
Note: Financial information is updated quarterly and therefore may not reflect the data reported in a more recent article.