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From Hollywood to the heartland

IHS volunteer lauds dental program

February 06, 2012

By Stacie Crozier, ADA News Staff


Rewarding: Dr. Charles J. Maseredjian says volunteering at Indian Health Service clinics, including the Sioux San Dental Clinic in Rapid City, S.D., have been “great experiences.”
Burbank, Calif.—With a busy dental practice in the neighborhood of Warner Brothers Studios, Dr. Charles J. Maseredjian Jr. has practiced for 45 years in the Hollywood and Burbank areas.

Yet for the past three years, he’s taken a week to shift gears, providing volunteer dental care in Indian Health Service clinics in South Dakota and Minnesota.

I have come to a point in my dental career where I want to give back,” said Dr. Maseredjian. “I saw an ADA News article about the IHS program three years ago. I called and got on board. That’s where I am now.”

The ADA life member has made two volunteer trips to Sioux San Dental Clinic in Rapid City, S.D., and one to the White Earth Dental Clinic in Ogema, Minn.

“I have come to a point in my dental career where I want to give back,” said Dr. Maseredjian. “I saw an ADA News article about the IHS program three years ago. I called and got on board. That's where I am now.”

The ADA life member has made two volunteer trips to Sioux San Dental Clinic in Rapid City, S.D., and one to the White Earth Dental Clinic in Ogema, Minn.

“They were great experiences,” he said. “You are working in excellent dental clinics, assisted by a great staff. I really enjoy treating each patient’s needs and counseling them on proper dental care. The clinic staff treats patients of all ages, and it is very gratifying to know you are helping someone.”

Dr. Maseredjian isn’t new to volunteering. He helps at the Kid's Community Dental Clinic in Burbank, which provides low-cost care to low-income uninsured children up to age 18. He also reaches out through school-based prevention and intervention programs and community health fairs. He volunteers at other community dental care missions.

“My heart goes out to people who cannot afford dental services, and I feel that every one of us in the dental profession should reach out to these people and do some charity work.

“Working at the IHS clinics has been wonderful,” he added. “This year I even brought my son, Charles J. Maseredjian III, with me to work at the Sioux San clinic. He is a dental hygienist and he works in my office. Patient education is very intense in my office and this has been carried over into the volunteer experiences I’ve had at the White Earth and Sioux San Dental Clinics.”

Dr. Maseredjian says he not only plans to continue volunteering for IHS clinics, he will also continue to praise the program at dental meetings, dental school reunions and other venues where he might be able to enlist a colleague to sign on as well.

“I talk about my experiences at many dental meetings and other gatherings,” he said. “It's a real eye-opener for a lot of people. I’d like to see more dentists get involved. It’s a pleasure to work in the atmosphere of a modern IHS clinic and to interact with people from a different culture.”

A motorcycle enthusiast and fisherman, Dr. Maseredjian said he’s explored the scenic areas when time has permitted.

“Volunteering at IHS clinics is something I look forward to more each time I go,” he said.

To improve access to oral health care for American Indian/Alaska Native populations, the ADA matches dentists and dental students with volunteer opportunities at rural Indian Health Service/tribal clinics.

For more information, contact Gary Podschun, manager, Community Outreach and Cultural Competence for the Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, at podschung@ada.org or 1-312-440-7487.