Dental Mission Trip Helps 163 Belize Patients, But Helps American Dental Staff More

The staff of St. Charles Family Dentistry in St. Charles, Illinois was challenged in late 2015 to meet specific revenue goals for 2016.

The reward for meeting that goal included a one-week trip in July 2017 to serve the children of Northern Belize with complimentary dental care.

Dr. Edward and Lynn Lipskis have participated in a day of complimentary dental care in Chicagoland every year through the “Dentists with a Heart” program, so they are no strangers to helping those who can’t afford dental care.

In fact, many Chicagoland dental practices join them in this annual Valentine’s Day gesture to the community.

Staff at Lamanai
Little did the team know that a week in Belize would change the way they view the world. Giving back is a direct route to getting back more in return. Here, the staff at St. Charles Family Dentistry experiences the wonder of the Lamanai Mayan Ruins.

So a trip to Belize was a natural extension of the program and a chance to show their staff about the needs of those in a third-world country.

Preparation for the July 2017 trip started in late 2016. Dr. Ed, Dr. Lynn and Dr. Dana visited Northern Belize to lay the ground work for the trip with Pastor Antonette Young of United in Christ Evangelical Church in Orange Walk Town who would serve as their local coordinator for the project.

the scope of the trip was determined and all logistics were discussed 6 months ahead of time. Pastor Young used her contacts in the Northern Belize area and selected two elementary schools in two distinctly needy villages.

Trinidad, about 20 miles West of Orange Walk in the Orange Walk District (off of San Antonio Road) and Santa Marta, a village about 30 miles Southeast of Orange Walk in the Belize District (off of the Old Northern Highway) were selected due to their close proximity to Orange Walk, which served as base for the mission activities.

She met with local school and health personnel to secure the help of a few local dentists to help oversee the dental procedures and serve as on-site consultants.

 

Dr Edward Lipskis discusses a treatment plan with Dr. Gustuvo, a consulting Belizean Dentist.

Hotel De La Fuente in downtown Orange Walk provided the 10 staff members who came with discounted rooms thanks to the generosity of owner Landy De La Fuente.

Hotel De La Fuente on Main St. in Orange Walk served as headquarters for the mission trip.

He also coordinated a boat tour down the New River to the Lamanai Mayan Ruins for the dental team after a few busy days of dental procedures.

During two days, 163 dental procedures were completed. Everything from cleanings to extractions were performed in make-shift dental offices in school classrooms.

Because of the lack of full dental facilities, the creative staff used portable camping stoves and pressure cookers to sterilize instruments. Much of the necessary tools and supplies were donated by Henry Schein, Inc. headquartered in New York through Henry Schein Cares, their global corporate social responsibility program.

Below you’ll find highlights of the two days of dental care as well as photos of the rest of the week which was used to reward the staff with relaxation, tourist opportunities and other team-building activities.

DAY ONE: SANTA MARTA

Even before the team was able to settle into their first day of work, Dr. Ed was asked if he could visit the Regional Hospital in Orange Walk to see if he could assess the needs of a patient that was in a car accident the day before and was in need of dental surgery. Even though Dr. Ed was thrilled to help, after assessment, he knew he wasn’t able to help because the person’s jaw was broken and needed to be wired shut before any dental help could be offered. Above, the team waits outside the hospital before heading to Trinidad.
Even though the setting wasn’t perfect, the team was organized and up to the challenge. First, the prep tables needed to be organized for efficient work flow.
Dr. Lynn didn’t waste any time getting right to it. With no adjustable dental chairs, much of the work was done with hunched backs and inadequate lighting, but makeshift camping headlights helped out quite a bit.
Although Dr. Ed spends most of his time back in the states on Jaw-related dentistry, orthodontics and lecturing, he was happy to get back to the basics while in Belize.
Patience, a little humor and a helpful mother were sometimes necessary to get children to open their mouths. Most have not seen a dentist before and according to Belizean officials, this is the first dental mission trip ever in their country.
Dr Dana Lipskis handles much of the general dentistry in Illinois, so she was in her element here, although limitations kept her from being able to complete typical fillings. Planning will be necessary to include full-service dentistry in any future mission trips.
Linda Castillo works in administration in St. Charles and because she is originally from Orange Walk, she was relied on for much of the translation necessary. Her heart for the Belizean people made a mission trip to Belize an emphasis for her.
Invention is the mother of necessity. Dental instruments were sterilized through the use of small camping stoves and a pressure cooker. When he wasn’t sterilizing instruments, justin captured the entire trip with his photography.
Alyssa used all of her charm to execute her hygiene duties. Use of a battery-powered tooth brush is taken for granted in the U.S., but was a new experience for these children. They no doubt had much to talk about at their homes that night. Wouldn’t it be nice to see one of these brushes in the hands of every family member in Belize?

DAY TWO: TRINIDAD

As set-up for day two of work was underway, some of the kids were eager to gather and wait patiently for their turn.
The School doubles as the local hurricane shelter since many of the homes in the village are made of wood. These homes would not fare too well in a tropical storm. Perhaps they need an additional sign now that boasts “Dental Office”.
It took a bit of time, but Dr. Lynn was relieved that the final authorization to perform dentistry was signed by the local officials. Work can begin!
Dr. Lisa Reust gets the help of a father to open the mouth of this hesitant patient. Despite his best efforts and the training of Angela the Dental Assistant, this young boy would not cooperate and left untreated.
Sometimes it takes a team to convince a child to cooperate. Linda interprets the treatment of Dr. Reust for a young girl in Spanish.
Dr. Lynn ignores the heat and engages with a hygiene patient while Dr. Ed entertains a brother who watches his sister under his care. A number of adults were also treated during both days.
Stephanie does her best to communicate with this boy about how he needs to care for his teeth after he leaves. The second day beat day one in total number of patients seen.
The church van, used to transport the team the 20 miles to Trinidad, showed its age and would not start for the ride home. Tony, the driver, puts water in the radiator while the team waits for another vehicle.
The team was not going to let the unforeseen circumstances spoil their day. They were happy to reminisce in the back of this small pickup truck as they headed back to the hotel. The wind would be welcome and they would look forward to the next 5 days of fun to come.

THE REST OF THE WEEK: DISCOVERING BELIZE

After 2 successful days of serving the residents of Northern Belize, the staff celebrated with a boat tour down the New River to the Lamanai Mayan Ruins South of Orange Walk on Wednesday.

Then a bus ride down to the Ocean Club Resort on the Placencia Penninsula for 3 days of relaxation and tourism on the 16 mile long Penninsula.

The Ocean Club Resort sits about half way down the Placencia Penninsula with all of the rooms and amenities necessary for a stay on the seaside. The resort is outside of the main town down to the South, and offers all the relaxation and excitement you could want from a Belizean resort.
The team spent time by the pool bar, enjoying the drinks, the team-building, the cool breeze and sharing what each had learned during the week in Belize.