The Faculty of Dentistry visited Bonnievale for an outreach weekend in March 2014. A team of eight 5th year, seven 4th year and two 3rd year Dental students together with four lecturers took part.
On the Friday afternoon, we travelled to Bonnievale in two mini-buses and stayed at The Outdoor Arena – who had just enough beds to accommodate all 25 of us, including our drivers. They provided all our meals too, so arrangements and payments were easy.
When we arrived at the clinic soon after 08:00 on the Saturday morning, there were more than 120 patients waiting for us. The clinic in Happy Valley was smaller than some of the clinics we used last year, but we managed to fit in very well. We used our 5 portable chairs in separate consulting rooms plus the clinics own dental surgery as well as the 2 chairs in our mobile clinic. The physiotherapy room became our sterilization department and a pre-fab office also had a portable chair in operation.
As usual, the students worked hard and the work progressed well. With 8 chairs in operation we could treat a lot of patients relatively quickly. We were visited on the Saturday by Ms Surina Neethling from the Cape Winelands Health District Office. On the Sunday we had a visit from Dr Luise Lunnon, the Medical Manager of the Langeberg Sub-district, who is also the mother of Antoinette Naudé, one of our 4th year students who was also part of the team.
As is the case in many rural towns, there is a great need for basic curative dental treatment with most of the patients needing dental extractions for pain and sepsis.
The team worked enthusiastically, providing extractions where necessary, and when a tooth could be saved by placing a filling, the patient was sent to our mobile clinic that was parked next to the clinic buildings. It was after 17:30 when we finally left, having treated 150 patients. Those we were not able to attend to were asked to return the next morning.
We returned to the Outdoor Arena, enjoyed a lovely supper and after socializing, (and maybe some academic discussions) we retired for the night.
When we returned on the Sunday morning there were about 80 patients waiting and our enthusiastic team of students got down to work again.
Despite the fact that the students were getting tired, they remained cheerful and kept working hard. It was so encouraging to see both staff and students getting involved in anything that needed doing, without having to be told to do so.
At work in the clinic Relaxing/engaging in academic discourse
When we finished at about 14:00, we had seen 80 patients. Unfortunately, there were about 20 more that we couldn’t see to, due to time constraints, but we will return in May to provide more services. After packing all the portable equipment, consumables and instruments into the mobile clinic and taking a group photo, we returned to Tygerberg, arriving soon after 17:00.
We saw 230 patients, extracted 619 teeth, filled 20 teeth and scaled and polished 5 patients. Considering that the state dentist from Robertson is only able to visit Bonnievale one day per month, we were able to assist in treating the backlog that has developed. All in all, it was a good weekend of work that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of many people in Bonnievale.
Packing-up can be fun Tired but happy
A special word of thanks to my colleagues from the Faculty who accompanied us, Prof Attie Louw (and, once again, his hard-working wife, Julie, who helped clean and sterilize instruments), Prof Neil Myburgh and Dr Khabiso Ramphoma
Thanks are also due to the Department of Health for allowing us to use their clinic, and in particular to the facility manager, Sr van der Walt and her friendly team who assisted us in many ways.
The Bonnievale March 2014 Outreach Team
This was our first outreach activity for 2014. Once again I was impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm of our students. Many patients were treated and our students developed clinical skills, which makes these outreach programmes so mutually beneficial. But the thing that again impressed me is the commitment, empathy and enthusiasm of the students. I keep saying it, but it really bears repeating, UWC can really be proud of them.
Dr R B Barrie
11 March 2014