End Homelessness Now

End Homelessness Now

December 16, 2010 11:21 ET

First United Church and UBC Partner to Provide Free Dental Care in the Downtown Eastside

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 16, 2010) - First United Church and the School of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia have partnered to create a much needed dental clinic at the corner of Hastings and Gore. Focusing on pain management and infection control, the program launching today at 10 a.m. will provide free dental care to people of the downtown eastside including those who call First United Church their home.

"Health care is a major concern for us and we see a lot of people who either don't have teeth or whose dental health is very poor," says Rev. Ric Mathews, Executive Minister of First United Church. "We are hopeful that by running this pilot project we will be able to assess more fully the needs of this community and be able to create a long-lasting and substantial response to the need."

Today's test run of the new facility will have patients in the chair, with Dr. Chris Zed, Associate Dean, Strategic and External Affairs, UBC School of Dentistry, available for pictures and interviews.

"It is in the tradition of UBC to reach out and to collaborate with community. UBC Dentistry is thrilled to work with both First United and the City of Vancouver to realize this service," explained Dr. Chris Zed, Associate Dean, Strategic and External Affairs, UBC School of Dentistry. "Through the tireless efforts of the team at First United to raise awareness of the large number of homeless in the downtown eastside, who are suffering with serious oral dental pain, the initial launch of this program is being realized. UBC Dentistry residents and students are very familiar treating underserved and under accessed communities and their associated psycho social barriers to care. We welcome this new collaboration."

The one-chair dental clinic, launched as a pilot project to assess the oral health needs of some of the most marginalized people in the city, has been made possible through the generous bequest of a Vancouver resident and will start operating in the New Year one afternoon a week with the assistance of dental school residents from UBC. 

First United is working in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside alongside many other organisations to address the issues related to homelessness. It is a community that includes residents of the Downtown Eastside and those from the wider society working side-by-side to build inclusive community and to address the practical needs of homeless people. First United Church accommodates 260 people in three apartment buildings and the church is "home" to a further 350 people. The community values diversity and individual difference and is committed to stand with those who live on the margins of society.

Media Event: Today, 10:00 am, First United Church, 320 East Hastings Street, Vancouver

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