An immersive experience in Corfu
Dr. Marti, Dr. Gonzalez-Cabezas and D3 students Jenn Cleary, Brittney Phillips, and Nicole Pentis spent summer break in Corfu, Greece to collaborate, explore, and develop relationships with the not only the Special Needs community on the Island, but also local practitioners, hospital staff, and government. Our goal was to establish a reproducible system of identifying dental need, develop a model to address the dental need and implement those changes in order to promote access to care for the Special Needs community.
One of our first visits was to the General Hospital of Corfu, the largest public hospital on the island. The hospital dentistry clinic is the main referral site for Special Needs patients on Corfu. However, as explained by one of the hospital oral surgeons, most Special Needs patients are not seen on Corfu, but rather sent to Athens. The group also visited private practice offices that allowed seeing other patient-doctor interactions in Greece and further explore the current status of inter-professional collaboration towards special needs patients.
We held an informal meeting with the Special Olympics team of Corfu. During the meeting we had several team members, coaches, and caregivers discuss their experience obtaining and receiving dental care on Corfu.
Our meeting was held at the Special Olympics training center and was attended by nearly all the athletes, their parents, and their caregivers.
MELISSA is a special needs non-profit organization in Corfu. The founder of MELISSA has a daughter with cerebral palsy, and due to the lack of education and opportunity on the island, he created MELISSA to allow special needs individuals an opportunity to meet, learn, and grow together.
We saw firsthand the great dedication and effort that is currently being made by volunteers toward the special needs population on Corfu. MELISSA is operated entirely by volunteers and teaches Special Needs individuals various life skills, including brushing their teeth, as well as allowing them to take part in various arts & crafts, cooking, and social interaction.
The cumulation of our trip lead to the Symposium. The symposium provided a venue for education and collaboration between local dentists, Special Olympians, families/caregivers, and coaches to share their experiences on oral health in the special needs community.
The group from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry presenting included: Dr. Fontana, Brittney Phillips, Jenn Cleary, Dr. Gonzalez, Nicole Pentis, and Dr. Marti.
D3 students Nicole Pentis, Brittney Phillips, and Jenn Cleary conducted a presentation about the clinical aspect of treating patients with special health care needs. Our presentation came from ideas taught in one of our classes by Dr. Stephanie Munz and was was geared toward providing information for not only local dentists, but also caregivers and special needs individuals.
The symposium highlighted the start of collaboration between the University of Michigan, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Corfu Dental Association, the local government, and special needs individuals on Corfu. This was evident based on the continuing discussion following our event.
Local television media came to our Symposium to conduct a live interview to air on the Corfu News. Pictured above is Dr. Zouloumis, Dean of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki School of Dentistry, Dr. Rapsomanikis, the President of the Corfu Dental Association, Dr. Gonzalez, and Dr. Marti all being interviewed.
The Symposium provided a collaborative exchange of knowledge and experience towards not only removing barriers to care for a special needs population, but also the sharing of treatment models. Thus, overall it provided an optimistic future for special needs dentistry on Corfu.
During our trip, we used our day off to explore Corfu.