COMMUNITY SERVICE BRINGS SMILES
AND A NATIONAL AWARD
Clark College dental hygiene student Betsy Preheim has been honored with the Anthony Westwater Jong Memorial Community Dental Health Award for her work spearheading a Dental Health Day for homeless men at the Clark College Dental Hygiene Clinic in April. The project provided care for eighteen men who hadn’t received dental care for many years. Preheim, who resides in Vancouver, was one of only three people nationally to receive the Jong award in 2008.
Preheim organized community partners including local dentists and hygienists, the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington, and Clark County Public Health. Their combined efforts produced more than $20,000 worth of dental services. The funding for this project was provided by the Kaiser Permanente Dental Care Program. For the event, held on April 19, 2008, Preheim organized student rotations, patient flow, and the clinic set-up. Forty-four volunteers provided 18 patients with dental treatment consisting of x-rays, fluoride treatments, fillings, and extractions.
"Betsy's project demonstrated a true dedication to community service,” said Melody Scheer, oral health coordinator at Clark County Public Health. Scheer, who served as instructor for the Clark College class that organized the project, added, "Based on the outstanding response, she already has great ideas about how to make this event even more successful next year."
Preheim said she chose the project because of her belief in the importance of reducing health disparities for underserved populations. “I‘m happy that we could help these men, who had extremely limited access to dental care,” said Preheim. “For some, the relief from oral pain finally allowed them to eat a meal comfortably. Others were happy at being able to smile without embarrassment.”
Preheim added that she hopes that the men who came to the clinic will have less dental pain, need less pain medicine, and be confident enough in their appearance that they have a better chance of finding work.
Clark College President Robert K. Knight said, “We’re so proud that Betsy has received this distinguished award. Betsy exemplifies the talent of our dental hygiene students and our college-wide commitment to service learning – learning that makes a difference in our community.”
After graduating from Kalama High School in 2000, Betsy Preheim spent four years in the Air Force as a computer technician. Following her honorable discharge, she decided to change careers. “I chose the dental hygiene profession because I love helping people,” said Preheim.
About the Anthony Westwater Jong Memorial Community Dental Health Award
The Anthony Westwater Jong Memorial Community Dental Health Award is given annually to outstanding dentistry students. The award is presented by the Oral Health Section of the American Public Health Association.
The awards were established in 2006 in memory of the late Anthony Westwater Jong and in recognition of his commitment to community-based dental public health, his strong and highly acclaimed mentoring of students, and his emphasis on the importance of state, local and community-based public health action.
About Anthony Westwater Jong
Anthony Westwater Jong, who died in 1992, was a prominent figure in public health dentistry. Thoughout his career, he sought to ensure that people in low-income neighborhoods had access to regular dental care. Jong was an associate dean of the Henry M. Goldman School of Graduate Dentistry at Boston University and chairman of its department of dental-care management. He had also been an assistant dean at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
Jong was president of the Dimock Community Dental Center in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston and was head of the Child and Youth Project of Boston, which sought to improve health care for Boston youth.