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Study club collects dental equipment for Cuban clinics

August 01, 2014

By Stacie Crozier

photo of group in Cuba
Historic mission trip: Members of the Fialkoff Queens Dental Study Club arrive at the airport in Havana, Cuba, March 23 on a trip to donate dental equipment collected from dentists across the U.S.
After several years of planning and preparation, 16 members of the Fialkoff Queens Dental Study Club in New York were able to take a five-day humanitarian trip to Cuba in April.

The group, including dentists from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, spent several years collecting used dental equipment from dentists and organizations throughout the U.S. They brought more than $50,000 worth of donated equipment to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health for distribution to a variety of clinics.

The group was not able to practice dentistry in Cuba, but met with Cuban dentists, dental students and public health specialists during their five-day stay in Havana.

Dr. Bernard Fialkoff, a periodontist in Queens, was born in Cuba. He had not been back since his family emigrated in 1962, when he was 8 years old. He said that many participants in his 80-member study club actively work in New York area schools to provide education on oral health and drug addiction as a way to give back to the community. The Cuba humanitarian project, he added, offered members a way to make an international impact.

"Our study club supports the idea that dentists need to adhere to high standards for dentistry and continuing education to excel," Dr. Fialkoff said. "Reaching out to the community or to the world outside our immediate sphere offers us a chance to network and exchange ideas. Dentists can do so much in their communities and worldwide to effect change and to help others.

The group also included Bob Schwartz, Disarm/Global Health Partners executive director, who helped the group secure the needed license to travel to Cuba; and Drs. Jonelle Cox, David Gavlin, Matthew Lee, Elie Marzouk, Kaveh Niknia, Charles Pellicane, Edward Portnoy, Maria Claudia Torres and Deborah Zivari.