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After 30 years, dental clinic still serves children in Burbank, Calif.

December 08, 2014

By Kimber Solana

photo of volunteers
Three decades: (From left) Jacob Maseredjian, registered dental hygienist; Dale Gorman, KCDC executive director; Ana Gomez, registered dental assistant; and Dr. Charles Maseredjian pose in front of Kids' Community Dental Clinic in Burbank, Calif. KCDC celebrated its 13th year as a nonprofit organization in May. However, the clinic has been serving Burbank, Calif.-area children for about 35 years.
Burbank, Calif
. — For about 35 years, Kids' Community Dental Clinic has had several incarnations, but one thing remains the same — its commitment in treating low income and uninsured children.

"There is a large low-income community in the Burbank area," said Dale Gorman, KCDC executive director. "Patients from low-income and uninsured families don't readily come for dental care; they're usually emergency driven. What we do is to try to lift the barriers so they can come and start a regimen of preventable care."

This past May, the Kids' Community Dental Clinic celebrated its 13th year as a nonprofit organization.

However, its story began in the 1970s when it first opened as a children's dental clinic at the Sisters of Providence, St. Joseph Medical Center. Due to some restructuring, the clinic closed in 1997, and low-income families in the area found it more difficult to find low cost dental care for their children.

"There was a huge outcry from the community," Ms. Gorman said. After receiving nonprofit status in 2001, the clinic reopened in 2002 as the Kids' Community Clinic of Burbank. In 2008, KCDC moved to a building behind William McKinley Elementary School — fundraising enough to rehab the old bungalow into a dental office with three dental chairs.

Today, KCDC sees children throughout Burbank and its surrounding communities in Southern California — about 50 children every week, Ms. Gorman said.

Its primary services include dental check-ups, fillings, cleanings, X-rays and dental education. KCDC can also do more extensive dental procedures such as root canals, crowns, oral surgery and periodontic procedures.

"It's important for the dental profession to give back and help where we can," said Dr. Charles Maseredjian, who has been volunteering since the clinic's days with St. Joseph Medical Center.

The clinic has 2.3 paid staff members, 20 core dentist volunteers, including oral surgeons, endodontists and periodontists, and 10 core hygienists. KCDC also receives help from students from the dental hygienist programs of Pasadena City College and West Los Angeles College.

"We can donate our time and skills to give children the treatment they need that's affordable to them," he said. "A lot of our supplies and equipment are also donated."

The clinic's major supply donors include Henry Schein Cares Foundation, National Children's Oral Health Foundation and Oral Health America.

However, the clinic continues to recruit volunteer dentists and donations to keep its programs running. In addition to low cost treatment at the clinic, KCDC also focuses on prevention outreach by visiting schools and public health fairs to provide free screenings, fluoride treatments and dental education. KCDC visited 47 schools, many from low-income areas, in 2013. They also follow up with school nurses and administrators to ensure students receive the care they need.

"There are children who can't go to school because of pain, whether it's a cavity, gum issues or abscess," Ms. Gorman said. "We continue to try to educate parents and children that we're there, but that tooth decay is a preventable disease."

For more information on KCDC and how to donate or volunteer, visit kidsclinic.org.