Group Dentistry Now has seen a decline in dental philanthropic efforts for the past three years. Bucking this trend, Guardian Dentistry Partners (GDP), featured on the Group Dentistry Now Emerging Groups to Watch list in 2020, recently visited La Romana, Dominican Republic, to provide essential dental care to the Haitian migrants of the Bateyes.
Bateyes are communities built in between sugar fields, created exclusively for Haitian laborers who are employed to harvest sugar cane. This is where they live and raise their families, totally isolated from everything. The men are paid $5 per day to harvest enough sugar cane to fill a wagon about the size of two flatbed pickup trucks with walls ten feet high. This takes an adept harvester between 12 and 14 hours. The $5 per day pays for food and water, which can only be purchased from company stores.
There is no government or employer-supported healthcare for the people of the Bateyes, leaving the residents’ health problems to go untreated. This issue is compounded by environmental health risks such as smoke inhalation from the burning of harvested fields and regular infections due to inadequate water and sanitation services in the communities.
Fundación Hospital Buen Samaritano in La Romana coordinates between 80 and 90 mission trips from the US annually. Around half of these are medical.
“Giving back is a huge part of the GDP culture, and this mission trip to the Dominican Republic highlights four of our core values: Mentorship, Partnership, Action, and Caring. The total impact it provides on the lives of the participants on both sides is immeasurable and life changing. We plan to keep this mission going and expand on it even more.” – Danny Kawas, CEO of GDP
Dr. Hisham Barakat, Chief Clinical Officer at GDP, interviewed interested GDP dentists and chose 11 dentists to go on the mission trip, which was held October 8-14. The mission trip team also consisted of six dental assistants.
Dr. Barakat, along with Dr. Thayer Bouali and Dr. Ahmed El-Mahrouky, played a huge part in mentoring and coaching the dentists while also serving patients in a clinic and in an RV. In addition to patient care, they carried out a theoretical-practical workshop teaching different sinus lift techniques to the 11 dentists.
The knowledge acquired in this workshop was taken to the hospital clinic in the following days, where the dentists could perform the techniques with the support of the team’s three mentors. The group also worked with local doctors on implant restorative techniques.
The chosen mission dentists each did a rotation at Hospital El Buen Samaritano or in the fields in the Bateyes on the RV mobile unit, providing free dental care to those in need. Implant placements, advanced implant procedures such as sinus lifts, ridge expansions, full arch cases and soft tissue grafting, in addition to fillings, cleanings, and extractions were completed on patients.
“The residents were so wonderful and gracious. It was truly a humbling experience to be able to provide care and help so many people who were hoping for a miracle. We came back with our hearts full, and our purpose fulfilled. Thanks to Nikki Le, our Clinical Program Manager, for her involvement in the planning and execution of the trip logistics, and our great vendor partners that donated supplies and helped make this trip a success.” – Dr. Hisham Barakat, Chief Clinical Officer at GDP
GDP, recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list in 2023, served 27 dental clinic patients and 139 RV patients.
- Total extractions: 181
- Total hygiene patients: 72
- Total fillings: 7
- Implant placements: 137
- Sinus lifts lateral and crestal approach: 10
- Full arch cases: 2
- Soft tissue grafting: 3
Giving back and corporate social responsibility initiatives have been part of the GDP mission since its founding in 2018. This mission trip was an emotional and impactful trip for all involved.