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Dental Hygiene Trains Health Workers in Guatemala

Director, part-time instructor work with midwives on oral health education, fluoride varnish applications

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Earlier this month, Parkland College Dental Hygiene Program faculty joined area doctors in central Guatemala to provide intensive training and offer dental services.

Program Director Peg Boyce and part-time faculty instructor and local periodontist Dr. Yoolim Kim traveled with Carle Physician Group pediatric specialist Dr. Malcolm "Mike" Hill to serve at Maya Health Alliance, a full-service, non-profit health center also known as Wuqu Kawoq. The Parkland instructors went to train the area's midwives and staff in providing various oral health services to residents.

"Dr. Hill and other local doctors including Dr. Ty Melvin and Dr. Melinda Dabrowski have been active with Wuqu Kawoq and recently determined that oral health care is a serious need there," Boyce said. That was when Dr. Hill, who also teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Medicine, invited Parkland faculty to be involved with providing dental care and education.

Boyce and Dr. Kim spent six days at the health alliance, teaching the staff to provide oral health education and apply fluoride varnish to children's teeth. They also provided assistance with extractions, dental examinations, and cleanings.

Wuqu Kawoq was founded in 2006 by Anne Kraemer Diaz, a medical anthropologist, Dr. Peter Rohloff, a former medical student at the UIUC who has worked with Drs. Hill and Melvin, and several others. The health alliance offers maternal/child health and nutrition clinic services, a cancer treatment program, complex surgeries or care for special needs children, a referral diabetes program, and more.

Although Parkland students did not accompany program faculty on this trip, the Dental Hygiene program expects future collaborations with Wuqu Kawoq that will include students.

"It was a great trip, and it was exciting to learn about the work they are doing," Boyce said. "This organization has a strong connection with Champaign; I am looking forward to taking students in the future."

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