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Study club lends a hand

Huntington, W. Va.—The Hollenback-Medina Operative Dentistry Seminar did more than discuss dentistry in June when members of the study club traveled to the dental clinic of Ebenezer Medical Outreach.

About two dozen members of this "gold study club"—which is composed of dentists interested in gold foils and inlays—spent two days providing care to some of the clinic's neediest patients. They heard about the clinic from Dr. Leo Fleckenstein, the clinic's volunteer dental director and a longtime member of the study club.

The study club generally meets three times a year. Members first got the idea to visit and volunteer in Huntington at one of their meetings.

"We felt the club should support our study club colleague and use our disciplined approach to restorative dentistry to provide some necessary care for those in need," said HMODS member Dr. Gary Schumacher, who is also the acting director of the ADA Foundation's Paffenbarger Research Center.

According to Dr. Fleckenstein, the dental clinic—which opened in 2005—treats some 400 patients each year and depends on volunteers to keep it running. It was designed to serve uninsured adults who can't afford care.

Dr. Schumacher said all of the volunteers were "very impressed with the tireless, yet successful work" that Dr. Fleckenstein and volunteers provide at Ebenezer Dental Clinic in securing funding and volunteer services to provide care for those individuals who have difficulties in accessing care in the economically depressed area of Huntington.

"One of the fundamentals of the mission of the ADA Foundation is to make a difference through better oral health and improve access to care," Dr. Schumacher said.

Most appointments averaged two hours and patients required multiple restorations due to caries, he said. Many of the patients were medically compromised and were being treated with multiple medications.

Said Dr. Fleckenstein, "All of the patients responded well to the treatment received. They were impressed with how well the dentists worked together assisting each other in a calm and relaxed atmosphere."

Dr. Fleckenstein also had a message for the study club members: "The clinic and patients will be available if the club decides to return in June of 2009."