The Rotary Club of East Chapel Hill, lead by Team Leader, Ray Tseng, completed a week long medical and dental service project to treat over 1,000 children at the Nueva Vida Clinic, Nicaragua with a brigade of 33 Rotarians from multiple Rotary Clubs and volunteers from multiple states.
Ten stations ran simultaneously for four days, administering dental services including exams, emergency extractions, dental restorations, and preventive fluoride varnish.
Dentists also applied Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF), new to Nicaragua, on all teeth with cavities. SDF has been recently approved for use in the US, and has been touted as a dental public health “magic bullet” because it arrests the advancement of cavities, so that local dental teams can have time to repair teeth, without having the child experience pain, infection, or abscesses.
The Nueva Vida dental clinic team were taught to place stainless steel crowns on children, which have a 95% success rate in children, particularly in the face of the poor diet and hygiene habits that are characteristic of underdeveloped communities.
Brigade members also visited the local dental school, and forged a service and learning partnership between the Universidad Nacional Autonomico Nicaragua (UNAN) College of Dentistry, and Central Carolina Community College Dental Programs of Sanford, NC. This partnership will allow distance and collaborative learning for students from both institutions, and will provide graduating dentists in Nicaragua the opportunity to treat patients at the Nueva Vida Clinic throughout the year, thereby increasing the number of children served annually. It also provides the beginning of an international outreach presence for Central Carolina Community College.
Medical services were administered by Rotarian Bill Lambeth, a plastic surgeon from the Rotary Club of Raleigh, who saw up to 17 patients per day, removing growths and scar tissue in adults to help relieve pain and restore normal function of hands and legs. His nurse and assistant was his wife, Diana. Anna Wildermuth, a pediatrician, administered well and sick child exams, seeing up to 42 patients per day, for children as young as 2 days old. Dr. Wildermuth helped to address common problems, such as respiratory issues and sun exposure problems, and helped many young women start the road to motherhood on the right foot. Patients at the clinic came from near and far, with some traveling over 2 hours to visit the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club team.
A new element of our trip was outreach into two local elementary schools- Trinidad Norte and Trinidad Central in Ciudad Sandino. Rotarian Chadd Mcglone and Lisa Godfrey from Central Carolina Community College visited schools to observe and work one-on-one with elementary school teachers. Lesson plans focused on how science, technology, engineering and math educational skills are used in the real world. STEM skills were related to oral hygiene for children, in the hopes of enhancing the educational skills of the teachers, and to have teachers be involved in helping children to maintain good oral health. Funding from a “Teeth and Technology” global grant made these activities possible.
This trip is an annual service event for the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club and was the first trip to this new location. The Rotary club of Cuidad Sandino, Nicaragua provided outstanding staff and logistical support and committed tremendous resources to host the largest group ever to visit the Nueva Vida Clinic. In addition to the Rotary clubs of East Chapel Hill and Ciudad Sandino, this years’ trip was also supported in part by donations by the Rotary clubs of Carrboro Sunrise, Oxford, Raleigh, Swansboro and Warrenton. Additionally, this year’s trip was partly funded by a Global Grant from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and the Goodwill Community Foundation.