Dr. Delvin Hansen, a dentist from Harvey, North Dakota, along with his wife JoAnn and an endodontist from his office, Dr. Martin Zerr, teamed up with two instructors from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in June to provide dental care for veterans and dependents of the Ukrainian military. For two weeks, they provided free care to those who needed it, sometimes working from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Dr. Zerr, Dr. Delvin and JoAnn, five dental students and six dental hygiene students began by flying into Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city. They spent one week treating patients at the Adventist medical clinic in Kiev. Their second week was spent 400 miles west in Lutsk, which is close to the Polish border.
>The standard of healthcare in Ukraine is generally regarded as very poor. It does have publicly funded healthcare, but many medical facilities lack up-to-date medical equipment, and not all medical staff have completed their training. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ensuing struggle over Eastern Ukraine has also put a strain on the economy and, as a result, the healthcare system.
In Kiev the team’s goal was to see 80 patients per day, working with eight portable units and the clinic’s three dental chairs. The group averaged over 500 patients per day in the two weeks they spent in Ukraine. In Lutsk the dental team used a state-run children’s clinic, where they worked on the fourth floor.
Dr. Hansen tells of a Babushka (older woman or Grandmother) he had as a patient while in Lutsk. He was informed she was very scared of dentists. “I winked at the lady and told the interpreter to tell her I am not a dentist, I am a veterinarian,” he says. “It did not help. She had five broken-off teeth with just the roots. I numbed her and asked her if it hurt. She said no and I got two thumbs up. I had the five roots out in five minutes. She grabbed my hands and started kissing them. I waved my finger at her and said, ‘No, no,’ and pointed to my cheek as a joke. I turned to go, but she grabbed me and started to kiss my cheek. After six kisses I told her it was enough. I think I made a difference in her life.”