About Dentists for Della
Sponsored by the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine, the Dentists for Della program provides a much-needed health benefit to veterans who are residents at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home. The volunteer program also reaches out to the fastest-growing segment of America’s population – the elderly.
Residents of the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home (GWVNH) generally do not have dental insurance or other oral health care benefits, so they do not regularly see a dentist. As their dexterity can be impaired, simple tasks such as brushing teeth or cleaning dentures are difficult and even impossible. Lack of mobility is a major factor with residents and they cannot easily be transported to a dental office for care and treatment. Even when physically capable of being moved, a patient or family often cannot afford the cost of transportation to the College of Dental Medicine for treatment.
Once a month, up to 30 volunteer students under the supervision of faculty adviser, Dr. Katharine Ciarrocca, visit the GWVNH located adjacent to the GRU Health Sciences campus. Students thoroughly clean and adjust dentures, brush the teeth of nursing home residents and provide oral, head and neck examinations. Grant funding has been provided by the CSRA Community Foundation, the Brannan Foundation and the Frances Hollis Brain Foundation and discounted supplies have been provided by Patterson Dental.
Before Dentists for Della, the only time dental students spent at GWVNH was when senior dental students would rotate once during their last semester of dental school as a part of their Introduction to Geriatric Dentistry course. Seeing the impact that the patients had on the students, another rotation was then added for first year dental students as a part of the Community Oral Health Promotion course. These students were required to spend one afternoon at the nursing home providing oral hygiene to the residents. This rotation was highly regarded, as the students enjoyed the opportunity to have patient contact so early in their education – in their very first semester.
The ultimate goal for the program came to fruition January 2013, when a new weekly required rotation for 3rd year dental students was started. Basic dental treatment, including fillings, cleanings and denture repairs, is provided to the nursing home residents at no cost. This rotation has enabled these students to provide care to a patient population that are too ill to transport to the CDM. In addition, it has provided real life experience in the dental management of geriatric and medically complex patients – a rotation where physically impaired patients with extensive medical histories could be evaluated and treated. What is even more amazing are the efforts of the students who fundraise to cover the cost of treatment. Dentists for Della now sponsors multiple events throughout the year to raise money to subsidize treatment for GWVNH residents. In addition, the generous donations we received when Dr. Della-Giustina passed away were a huge boost to our program, especially when we realized how fast the money depleted.
This Spring, Dentists for Della won the Horizon Award for being the University’s best new student organization (Horizon Award). This was yet another accolade Dentists for Della has received. The real celebration came when we realized that because of the students hard work with fundraising as well as the generosity of the friends and family of Dr. Della, our program was able to provide ,700 worth of dental treatment to the Veterans who reside at Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home. Dentists for Della has improved the quality of life of the Veterans because of the care we provide, and has impacted the dental students personally, professionally and academically.
The Dentists for Della program is named in honor of GRU College of Dental Medicine founding faculty member and Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home resident, Dr. Victor Della-Guistina, a retired community dentist committed to improving access to dental care for Georgia residents. Dentists for Della is a volunteer service project created by dental students Chris DeLeon, Ryan Fulchi, Ross Levine and William Bennett. Monthly visits to GWVNH began in January 2010.
For more information on Dentists for Della or to make a donation, contact the GRU Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences at 706-721-2607 or email@example.com.