Many lives were changed when A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) students traveled to a rural town in Mexico from June 26 – July 3.
Tim Lukavsky, D.D.S., assistant professor, and fourth-year dental students Brett Flaherty, Brian Banks, Marisa Lee, Stanley Cox, and third-year dental student Tanner Flaherty, along with volunteers from Louisiana and Texas gathered at Clinica Betel in Atoyac, Mexico, to treat medically underserved residents. Atoyac is a small town located about two hours from Acapulco.
ASDOH’s student volunteers became involved because of Dr. Lukavsky’s friendship with the physician mission group who sponsors the trip to Clinica Betel each year. This is the 13th year that Dr. Lukavsky has participated in the project and “ … after seeing ASDOH’s work ethic, compassion and care for these people by our ASDOH students, five to eight ASDOH students are wanted for next year’s trip,” said Dr. Lukavsky.
Over the course of five days, more than 50 general and cleft palate surgeries and 60 eye exams were performed. More than 300 dental patients were treated, providing 300 fillings, 400 extractions, multiple root canals and 15 new dentures all by ASDOH student volunteers.
“We often worked 11- to 13-hour days and then would run four-hour shifts throughout the night, caring for patients who had major surgeries,” said Brett Flaherty. “Despite the energy this effort required, I was amazed that all volunteers pushed forward with excitement.
“There is strength in serving others. It was motivating to get out of bed and get to work when we knew that patients had traveled great distances to arrive before sunrise to seek services that would relieve their pain and conditions.”