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ADA, ADA Foundation mobilize to help Puerto Rico's dentists

October 11, 2017

By David Burger


Aftermath: Puerto Rican residents walk in flooded streets in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, following Hurricane Maria. Photo by Puerto Rico National Guard Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos, courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

The ADA and ADA Foundation have teamed together to lead a unified effort to help the dentists of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria's devastation of the island.

In September, Hurricane Maria became the 10th-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since 1928, according to news reports. As of Oct. 6, the hurricane has caused at least 78 deaths, including 34 in Puerto Rico. Total losses from the hurricane are estimated at close to $100 billion, primarily in Puerto Rico.

Both the Association and the Foundation have been in contact with the El Colegio de Dentistas de Puerto Rico and the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine to assess the organizations' needs and mobilize support, including an Oct. 3 conference call that included Dr. Gary L. Roberts, ADA president; Dr. William Calnon, president and interim executive director of the ADA Foundation; Dr. Ana Lopez, dean of the  University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine; Mr. Gilberto Rios, executive director of El Colegio de Dentistas de Puerto Rico; and Dr. Edwin del Valle, ADA delegate.

Mr. Rios placed the number of active practicing dentists in Puerto Rico at about 1,200, with about 50 of them treating patients during half-days in dental facilities powered by generators to provide treatment to the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico.

The dental school suffered minor damages and reopened Oct. 9, but many students and staff lost their homes and belongings and need support, Dr. Lopez said.

Due to the needs of the El Colegio de Dentistas de Puerto Rico and University of Puerto Rico, the ADA has embarked on a program to help those affected by the hurricane, as well as establishing a way in which ADA members can help.

The ADA Board of Trustees has approved a donation of $250,000 from the ADA to support the Foundation's Emergency Disaster Grant Program. Each member of the ADA Board of Trustees has personally donated $2,000 to a fund dedicated to help dental students at the school.

The ADA Foundation is accepting donations so that it can help more dentists with its Emergency Disaster Grants. Due to the widespread devastation and unprecedented demand, as of Oct. 11 the Foundation has paid or committed more than $1 million through this program and had placed the program on hold until additional funds could be raised. Donations can be made online through the ADA Foundation's "How to Help" page at ADAFoundation.org, as well as via mail through the clip-out form. One hundred percent of donations to this program will be used to help dentists who have been affected by a disaster.

ADA members can help dentists in Puerto Rico with donations of either supplies or money. Visit ADA.org/HelpPuertoRico for complete information on items needed and for links to make monetary donations.

El Colegio is requesting donations to support two relief efforts:

  • Support for dentists that lost their primary home or private practice.
  • Support for patients in shelters and in the most devastated towns outside of San Juan.

El Collegio is requesting the following:

  • Water.
  • Mouthwash.
  • Non-perishable fruit juices.
  • Batteries.
  • Adult diapers.
  • Canned food.
  • Basic Toiletries.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Moist towelettes.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Generators.

Monetary donations are preferred, though, in order to obtain the materials. Organizations or individuals that wish to donate supplies instead of money should send items via UPS or USPS Priority Mail to the following address:

El Colegio de Dentistas de Puerto Rico
Attn: Gilbert Rios
Urb. Baldrich, 200 Manuel Domenech St.,
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918.

Mr. Rios' phone number is 1-787-764-1969.

The University of Puerto Rico is soliciting donations in support of three relief efforts:

  • Dental students/staff who lost their homes or personal belongings.
  • School clinic materials.
  • Outreach efforts to assist the affected community.

The University is asking for the same items El Collegio is requesting, along with insect repellant; baby diapers; tooth paste; floss; exam gloves; disposable gowns; tongue depressors; disposable masks; cell phone chargers; solar battery-operated light bulbs; head lights; anesthetic carpules, with and without epinephrine; needles; utility gloves; head covers; dental restorable materials; fluoride varnish; Microstone type III; alginate; basic medicine to treat diarrhea and gastroenteritis; and antibiotics, insulin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Monetary donations to the University of Puerto Rico are also preferred in order to obtain the materials. Organizations or individuals that wish to donate supplies instead of money should send items via UPS or USPS Priority Mail to the following address:

Dr. Ana N. López, Dean
School of Dental Medicine UPR
Ofic # A-103,A-104,A-150
Primer Piso
Edif. Principal RCM
Guillermo Arbona  Paseo Dr. Celso Barbosa
Rio Piedras, PR 00935

Henry Schein has also supported El Colegio de Dentistas de Puerto Rico and the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine. "We are in contact with El Colegio de Dentistas de Puerto Rico and the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine, and working with our supplier partners to support these organizations' requests for toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other personal hygiene products for individuals who are currently living in shelters," said Jennifer Kim Field, vice president, corporate social responsibility for Henry Schein. "At the same time, we continue to work closely with our long-standing disaster relief organizational partners such as Americares, Direct Relief International, Heart to Heart International and Medshare to determine how we can best support the health care community's needs in storm-affected areas of the island."

For further information about donations to the Colegio de Dentistas de Puerto Rico and the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine, contact Bridget Baxter at 1-312-440-2397 or baxterb@ada.org. For questions about ADA Foundation grants, contact the ADA Foundation staff at 1-312-440-2547 or adaf@ada.org.

In addition, through the Center for Professional Success the ADA has information on disaster recovery and emergency planning at ADA.org.