I’m pleased to announce that our 2017 Jamaica Dental Outreach Program is ready to start registering participant. Hands down, and to steal the words of another volunteer, “It’s the best 10 days of the year for me. And I look forward to coming every day!” Last year, we had another fantastic group come down; they met as strangers at the airport in Toronto, but after 10 days of hard / rewarding work, eating together, swimming together, and having fun together, they came together as friends for life. “Out of Many: One People” – the Jamaican national motto.
WHAT TO EXPECT: to learn more about how the program came to be, click HERE. If you want to know what to expect, you can read this article HERE. There are also lots of blogs on this website that go into further detail. Or you can just call me (647.680.9530) and I’d be happy to chat.
So with that said, here are the details for the 2017 program:
REGISTERING: first and foremost, contact me (647.680.9530 | firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me you’re interested in participating. After that, you’ll need to REGISTER with Great Shape! Inc. (more about them below) and confirm your flight by contacting Maria Ines (more on her below). That’s it! It’s best to have 1 or 2 more people come down with you (for rooming / accommodation), but it’s not necessary.
WHEN: Saturday, September 2, 2017 to Monday September 11, 2017
WHERE: Sandals Negril (note: this is an adults-only resort; previously, it’s been at Beaches, but it was switched this year to Sandals). Now, just a quick note on the resort. It’s a 5* plus, all inclusive luxury resort. In the past, dentists were able to bring their families (because we were staying at a Beaches resort, which is the family-friendly version of Sandals, owned by Sandals). I was a little disheartened to hear that I could not bring my family down, but my wife (Paris) is very supportive and is letting me come down (away from her and the 2 kids for 10 days) to help run this program I love so much. I owe her big time. And for those dentists with young families who were hoping to come down this year, all I can say is: we are very grateful to the Sandals Foundation for all that they’ve done in the past 14 years for running this program and perhaps they’ll allow us to do it at a Beaches in future years!
FLIGHTS: I’ve secured flights (group rate) with WestJet through Maria Ines of Flight Centre (she’s awesome! I’ve been using her to book flights / vacations for my family many years and I always follow her recommendations). Cost is ~$620 (taxes included) roundtrip airfare. Participants will need to contact Maria and give her their name (as it appears in their passports) and payment details. Here’s Maria’s contact info:
Maria Ines – Assistant Team Leader | Flight Centre FC Groups at Heartland
6045 Mavis Road, Unit 2 | Mississauga, Ontario L5R 4G6
(Phone) 905-290-0235 | (Toll Free) 1866 291 5753 | (Email) email@example.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-6.00pm
PROJECT FEE: Each volunteer is required to pay a project fee to Great Shape! Inc. (the U.S. not for profit that makes the program possibly by setting up the dental practices, dealing with transportation, training, and helping us do what we need to do). The fee this year is USD$850. Note: it’s typically 3 people to a room and we only have 11 rooms, so if you’re a couple, you will need to pay for the THIRD PERSON not to be there. So 3 project fees, even if you’re only 2 people.
OTHER COSTS: there are no other costs other than paying for your flight and project fee(s).
SUPPLIES: dentists and hygienists are asked to send / bring enough sundries / disposables to allow them to treat about 75 patients for the week. To make things easier, if you’re able to get the supplies to my office, I can add to our large shipment container (which Henry Schein, Patterson and K-Dental have donated generously in the past for). Dentists can bring their favourite handpieces; hygienists can bring their favourite scalers (although they do have cavitrons down there).
Note: Priority will go to past volunteers; if you’re a new volunteer, please contact me about participating.
I look forward to seeing you all down there; doing good work and having too much fun.
I’m pleased to announce that Oral Health Office magazine has just published my article entitled “Mission 2 Jamaica”, which talks about our 10-day dental outreach program in Jamaica this past September (3-12). You’ll see some pics, read some stories about how we were better prepared to go down this year, and you’ll also read (and maybe tear up or laugh out loud) about what happened at the clinic and back at the resort. Enjoy:
FYI, you can read all of our published articles HERE.
This is the third blog about our second dental outreach trip to Jamaica. Here’s the first blog, wherein I mainly talked about preparing to go down and how much better we were at it (compared to 2015!). Here’s the second blog, wherein I talked about clinical set up, equipment failures, and how we adapted to make the best of the situation. Now, in this blog, I’m going to be sharing only a LITTLE bit of the some of the fun we had at the clinics and back at the resort. In the next blog, I’ll talk about some of the shock and awe that we saw at the clinics. And in the final blog, I’ll discuss reverse culture shock.
Having Fun… Perhaps Too Much Fun!
I can’t divulge everything; you’ll just have to come down to experience the fun yourself. I do recall Dr. Mille Calko saying it was the funniest 10 days of her life and that she’s never laughed so hard!
Working Hard / Playing Hard
I don’t think there was a day when I went to bed before 1:00 a.m. And yet everyday I was up around 6:30 a.m., ready to get started on the day. I think I can speak for all of us: we were running on adrenaline every day. Some of us got sick after a few days because our bodies were tired and we were just pushing them to the extreme. I mean… think about it… during clinical days, we would get back to the resort around 5:00 p.m. and then go to the bar, grab a patty, hit the ocean, then go have dinner, and then hit the club, etc. Do that for a few days and you’ll understand why some of us were getting sick. We ended up loading up on soup and antibiotics to get us through the week. But it worked! Some of the volunteers got home and, when they finally gave their bodies a chance to recover from the adrenaline rush, their bodies turned against them and got them sick for a few days!
Here’s the tiny boat team Grange Hill (plus Dr. Jackie Geroche) took to Rick’s Cafe one evening. What a ride!
The World Famous Rick’s Cafe! Only Dr. Joseph Fava was brave enough to jump the 60 feet! Dr. Christina Bodea and husband Stefan Atalick jumped from the lower level.
And I don’t want you to think that there was a clear separation between work and play. We played on the way to and from the clinics. We also played at the clinics. For example, at Grange Hill, we played music on the van ride, played music at our clinic, and sometimes we took photos and posed with patients after a treatment. Our group theme song was…. Ghostbusters! Why? Because that’s what my son Michael currently loves as his favourite song. So I just kept playing it and we kept signing it.
Over at Little London, they were singing Christmas Carols like Let it Snow and Jingle Bells. Sometimes, while waiting for a patient, Dr. Irish Malapitan and Jazz Chohan would start doing ‘booty bounce’ dances at the clinic. All of these things made patients laugh and feel more comfortable. Here’s what it looked like
The official slogan for team Little London was Bar – Patty – Ocean. Here’s how it came about, as per Dr. Irish Malapitan: “We were on the bus; we were figuring out what we were going to do next. Oh no let’s go to the bar. No let’s go to the ocean. It was a time we could as a clinic group, think about the day and trouble shoot about how we were going to get better. By Friday we had it down to a science.”
We had fun, regardless of where we were of what we were doing. Back at the resort, we would do things together like play “Apples to Apples” at Cafe de Paris; go for a stroll by the beach late at night; hit the water park and go down the slides; hop on a boat and head out to Rick’s Cafe to jump 60 feet into the water (for the record, only Dr. Joseph Fava did this!).
I think we were having too much fun. But that’s what made it work. That’s what kept us motivated. To get through the hot days, poor ergonomic conditions, lack of available instruments and equipment failures.
We had a group of characters who would tell us incredible stories (like Dr. Mary Berkmortel or Dr. Jacqueline Geroche); we had funny nicknames for lots of people (like Candlestick for Stefan Atalick and Dr. Propa Touch for Utech dental grad student Tevin Carter). Sufficed to say, there was a lot of love in the air. And it all started from the beginning of the trip.
Some of the Nicknames
So apparently, “Irish” means potato in Patois. And that’s why a patient thanked “Dr. Potato” when referring to Dr. Irish Malapitan. Papa Joe explained at breakfast early in the week that Jamaicans referred to rustic potatoes as Irish and from that day it just stuck.
“My Man Child”
This name was given by Dr. Irish Malapitan to Jason Brown (Henry Schein sales manager). Basically, when team Little London was deciding on who was going to assist who, Dr. Irish said that she would take Jason Brown (a completely inexperienced assistant). “He’s my man child” said Dr. Irish.
According to Jason: “Dr. Irish and I clicked from the onset. Over the five days, I learned how she worked and what she needed. By the end of the week, we were able to practice four-handed dentistry. Doctor Irish was very patient and I have a lot of respect for her.”
Jason Brown (a.k.a. Dr. Irish Malapitan’s Man Child) and Dr. Irish Malapitan treating a patient at Little London
Dr. Potato (Dr. Irish Malapitan) with her Man Child (Jason Brown) and dental hygienist Jazz Chohan in the back
Dr. Propa Touch
So on the first day of clinic, I was going around and asking everyone how they were doing; whether they needed anything; how much time they thought they had left before I could bring them another patient. When I was talking to UTech Dental Grad Tevin Carter (which DMC LLP sponsored to be there), I asked him if that was going to be a difficult extraction. His response: “No. It just needs the propa touch”. And it was like a light shining over me: he would be called “Dr. Propa Touch”. I would henceforth introduce him as Tevin, aka “Dr. Propa Touch”. Everyone laughed.
Dr. Propa Touch (a.k.a. Tevin Carter) with dental hygienist Melissa Brunette and her mom Christine Martel
I’m sure the name will stick because… during our 2015 mission trip, when we were volunteering, we had a UTech dental grad student named Grantley Grant. I saw him spend over an hour with a difficult extraction. The cap had snapped and he was left with a bunch of roots. He asked me to bring him some instruments – east / west elevator, etc. I had no idea what he was looking for. I eventually brought him the right tools, which I called ‘a scooper’. And when “Dr. Scoops” (who was sweating it out trying to scoop out those roots using his trusted scooper) finally finished, everyone was overjoyed! “Dr. Scoops” or “Scoops” for short stuck with Grantley. Apparently, in St. Lucia in July 2016, Grantley was there. And he was still known as “Dr. Scoops”. Ha ha ha! Love it!
P.S. Can you feel the love?
Volunteers + Papa Joe going for a stroll at night at the resort.
Team Little London on the last day back at the resort.
Dr. Irish Malapitan, dental hygienist Jazz Chohan and dental hygiene student (Oregon) Sandra Busch out for a stroll in the rain after clinic.
This is the second blog about our second dental outreach trip to Jamaica. Here’s the first blog, wherein I mainly talked about preparing to go down and how much better we were at it (compared to 2015!). Now, in this blog, I’m going to be telling some stories about what happened in the clinics. The good, the bad, and the really ugly stuff… And how we had to adapt to keep going. In the next blog, I’ll talk about some of the funny things that happened in and outside of the clinics. In the fourth blog, I’ll discuss some shock and awe that we experienced. And in the final blog, I’ll talk about reverse culture shock.
By way of background, our Canadian contingent was pretty much divided into 3 groups: a small resort clinic (which had 1 dentist + 1 hygienist + 1 assistant and who worked on resort staff); a clinic at the Town of Little London and another clinic at the settlement of Grange Hill. The latter 2 clinics had about 12 or so volunteers.
Team Little London!
Team Grange Hill (with community volunteers!)
Clinic Set Up
Each clinic had 7 chairs. 2 of those chairs were used for hygiene. 1 chair for a dental student. And the remaining 4 chairs for dentists. We had a sterilization room with 2 autoclaves, ultrasonic bath, etc. In terms of sundries, we would initially set up the clinic with what we thought we needed and then make a supplies list every day for things we needed. Then we’d just go to the supplies room back at the resort and pack up what we needed for the next day. That’s how we got through the week. Our supplies were pretty well organized at the clinic.
Over the course of the 5 days that we volunteers, harsh working conditions coupled with equipment failures made it difficult (but not impossible) to work. Over at Little London, here’s how dental hygienist Jazz Chohan described it:
“Where do I start? Ergonomically, this was the worst week of my life. I’ve worked the hardest I’ve ever worked. My arm was killing me by day 3. My chair stopped going back. I couldn’t use suction. I didn’t have water. So no cavitron. The next day, they sent me a cavitron that didn’t work. I was doing hand scale the entire week. I do hand scaling at home; but I’ve never done anything this. Our compressors kept failing; we only had 1 sterilizer for most of the week until we got a second one. The second one came was taking too long (old autoclave); took a long time to get things cleaned vs. the 30 minutes for the other one. There were set backs with the availability of the equipment and also the use; assistant wasn’t trained so he wasn’t putting things into the autoclave strategically.”
Typical work station over at Little London
Dental Hygienist Jazz Chohan
Over at Grange Hill, we had cavitrons stop working, compressors fail (due to fuses being tripped), equipment not being available (we were waiting a few times for syringes to get sterilized). On our first day there, our saliva ejectors weren’t fitting properly into our adec units! Oh no!
Here’s the key thing to remember: be prepared for things to stop working. When they do, try your best to fix them and when you can’t, call in the experts. There were a few guys like Oshane and Roshane and Richard who worked with Great Shape! Inc. and who were sometimes available to help us with our equipment problems. But when they weren’t around and it didn’t look like we were going to get a working cavitron, we had to IMPROVISE. In our case, when we didn’t have syringes ready, I put all of our hygienists to work doing cleanings. This gave the dentists a break. Only 2 cavitrons were working and we typically had 5 hygienists, so I would send the little boys and girls to 3 hygienists to do hand-scaling and the older folks would go to the hygienists who were using the cavitrons. Then, once we got the syringes working again, the hygienists went back to assisting the dentists on extractions and fillings. Like I said: ADAPT! And when we noticed that the saliva ejectors weren’t fitting, we made some ‘adapters’ by cutting other surgical saliva ejectors to make it all work. And it did!
Another way in which we had to adapt involved registration. At first, it was just me doing registrations alongside DJ of Great Shape! Inc. Then we decided to get Dr. Christina Bodea to do triage. And her husband Stefan Atalick started helping out with the ticketing system. Things were going slow, but people were getting registered. But because we had a huge lineup outside our door on the first day, we needed to speed things up. So we decided to set up another table and have more people help with registration. This helped ease the tension and it definitely sped things up. I would register people on Mondays through Wednesday and DJ would register on Thursdays and Fridays. I only wish we would have done this from the beginning!
Grange Hill Set Up
Team Grange Hill getting instructions from Oshane about equipment
Over at Little London, they also had to adapt to their environment. They had a hygienist named Carla (their team leader who had done this mission trip before) who was able to freeze patients so the doctors would simply come over and start their treatment. She was trained in the U.S. on how to do this; apparently, Canadian hygienists aren’t allowed. This helped speed things up at their clinic. Another way in which team Little London got ahead of the 8 ball was by dividing the roles of patient intake (Jonathan Borrelli, DMC LLP) and patient flow (Anthony Archer, Henry Schein) after the first day. This helped speed things up tremendously.
FYI, here’s a cool time lapse video I took of us working a FULL day at Grange Hill.
And we’re back! This was our second annual dental outreach program in Jamaica. And it was a HUGE SUCCESS! A large group of us went down from September 3-12, 2016. Our volunteer group included Ontario dentists, hygienists, dental students, Henry Schein representatives, dental lawyers (myself and Jonathan Borrelli) and support staff.
The 2016 Dental Outreach Program Volunteers
Now, in this blog, and the next 4, I’m going to get into some of the things that happened when we went down and also when we came back (what Papa Joe calls ‘reverse culture shock’). In blog #2, I’ll talk about the clinic set up, equipment failures and how we adapted to keep going. In blog #3, I’ll talk about working hard and playing hard. In blog #4, I’ll talk about some shock and awe. And in blog #5, I’ll talk about reverse culture shock (when we got home) and some parting thoughts.
Now that we’re all back, I can say without a doubt, it was the best 10 days of the year for me (and likely many other volunteers). Everyone misses each other; the patients; the patties! But before I get started, I’m very happy to report that Oral Health Office magazine will be publishing an article I wrote exclusively for them in the October / November edition of their magazine. I’ll be touching on some of the stories that I couldn’t really get to in that article in these next few blogs… so shall we begin?
1 Year in the Making
When I returned home on September 6, 2015 from our first Jamaica dental outreach program, we got to work on promoting the success of that year’s program, as well as recruiting for our 2016 program. We were featured in the Toronto Star on December 26, 2015 (HERE). An article I wrote (HERE) about the experience was published in Oral Health Office. Ontario Dentist magazine acknowledged some of our volunteers who were featured in the media, as well as Dr. Tim Milligan (whose speech at the U of T Gala motivated me to start the whole program) (which you can read about HERE). And then we went on the road… talking to dentists and dental students about the program. I figured the hardest year was behind us and we could do a much better job recruiting and preparing volunteers the second time around. I was right…
Sending Down Supplies
The first year, we hit a couple of snags when it came to sending down supplies. Some dentists sent supplies down. Some brought them down with them. We also got a sizeable donation from Henry Schein, Patterson Dental, and K-Dental which we shipped down. We didn’t really know how to deal with all the logistics of getting our supplies down to Florida and then to Jamaica. There were delays. We had to spend weeks figuring out all the paperwork. It cost us a lot of money too. But at the end of the day, we got our supplies down there.
This time around, we got even more supplies. 20 large rubbermaid containers full. Plus, Dr. Monica Dinca – Toronto; Dr. Calvin Pike – Endo; Kitchener-Waterloo; and Dr. Joseph Da Costa – Toronto all donated sundries and equipment… and they weren’t even able to volunteer! I was shocked by their generosity.
Thankfully, we managed to use a different shipping company to get everything down and it arrived punctually right before we did!
Dr. Monica Dinca (General Dentist – Toronto) poses alongside her donation of equipment and sundries.
Notice the chair here in Jamaica? It came from Dr. Monica Dinca’s office!
Dr. Calvin Pike (Endo – Kitchener Waterloo) and his wonderful team pose next to their donation of sundries. Who’s car is that?
This was MOST BUT NOT ALL of the stuff that we packed up at DMC LLP to ship down to Jamaica. It took a few days to get it done.
In terms of preparing to go down, we were better this year than last. Thanks to Dr. Christina Bodea and her husband Stefan Atalick, we were able to put together a preparation guide (which you can see HERE) about what to expect when going down. It was reviewed / edited by myself and Papa Joe and Salli Jo and the end result was this: everyone had a better understanding of what to expect for the week. Having done the program twice, I think there’s definitely room for adding more. I also sent out a series of e-mails throughout the months leading up to our departure to discuss things like: airplane tickets, paperwork, meeting up for a photo-op at our ASM after-party, and how to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos and sand fleas.
Some of our volunteers met up at our ODA ASM After-Party to get this shot. Oh Stefan!
I know you’re very interested in the whole ‘how to avoid getting bitten’ part, so here is the email I sent out (for the record, everyone commented about how little they were bitten throughout the trip because of my tips ;-):
Sand Fleas – also known as “No See Ums”
In terms of next steps, I will likely send out one (1) more email before our trip so you can can be best prepared for our 10 day trip. But I did want to mention something important – preventing bites from Sand Fleas, also called “No See Ums”. The Caribbean beaches are plagued by sand fleas. You can’t see them. You won’t know when you’re bit. Typically, you’ll wake up the next morning with a rash somewhere and think there are bed bugs. That’s them! And they likely bit you the day before. They bite your feet and ankles and legs while you’re sitting on the beach working on your tan. And their bites are rash-like, itch and swell and don’t go away. Last year, some volunteers didn’t follow my advice and ended up getting bitten pretty bad (needing to see the nurse and getting some injections). Those volunteers would say something like: “Oh, I never get bitten”. My suggestion to have a an enjoyable trip: put your egos away and follow my advice (I tend not to get bitten by mosquitos or sand fleas when I’m travelling through the Caribbean):
Following my suggestions should result in a comfortable trip where you can enjoy the beach. You won’t be trying to scratch your legs while you’re trying to pull out a tooth at one of the clinics 😉
Think about it like this: I have to take a team of 10-15 strangers per clinic and get them to make a temporary dental office work for 5 full days. Things will break down. That’s guaranteed. The working conditions are harsh (hot; humid; fans blow hot air at you; low light; mosquitos; etc.). And there’s a huge demand for dental treatments and cleanings (hundreds of people lined up outside). So you’ll definitely need a positive attitude. And then you need to make sure that the team members get along throughout it all. Make sure you have dominant / leadership personalities paired up with detail-oriented worker bees, social butterflies, and highly-structured steadies to keep everyone together. You can’t have too much of one personality (particularly dominant personalities) or else there will be drama. And that’s the worst thing ever when you’re down there: when you’re not having fun anymore because of internal bickering. Thankfully, we didn’t have any this year at our 2 clinics. I was so happy it worked out.
In the next blog, I’ll talk about what happened when we actually got to Jamaica…
David Mayzel is your legal risk manager. He is a trained courtroom lawyer and has spent many years resolving disputes both in and out of court. He knows how to prepare documents and execute transactions in a way that avoids or mitigates legal risks. He can be reached at 416.528.5280. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Carabash is your business law adviser. He is an entrepreneur at heart who helps you see the big legal picture. He drafts clear and effective agreements that protect your rights while promoting your interests. He can be reached at 647.680.9530. or email@example.com.
Ljubica Durlovska is your transition lawyer. She helps you with staff and associates, maintaining your corporation, and other business matters. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan Borrelli is your employment lawyer. He helps you with staff and associates matters, including hirings, terminations, switching staff to written contracts and resolving disputes. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 204 or email@example.com.
Benjamin Kong is an experienced business law clerk. He assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Whitehouse is an experienced business law clerk. She assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 203 or email@example.com.
David, Michael, Ljubica, Jonathan, Ben and Julie are a truly dynamic team. Their diverse knowledge, skills, and experiences will help you get the best deal possible while promoting your interests and protecting your rights. You can read dentist testimonials here.