The University of Washington Geriatric Dental Clinic needs your help.
Like many healthcare providers, they are still having a hard time locating and purchasing cost-effective personal protective equipment (PPE).
But let me back up for a minute before I get into the details about this amazing organization and their specific needs.
Closing Universities Impacts Everyone
We are all well aware of how the pandemic has upended everything. In fact, I have spoken with all kinds of people from all over the US about how the pandemic is impacting them and there are common threads.
Many people feel that their attempt to stay safe and be informed leads to constant, exhausting information overload.
Others, feel that no matter where their views fall within the ‘appropriate COVID-19 protection’ spectrum, they still find themselves second guessing every choice they make.
So imagine for a minute, that you are feeling both of the above AND you are a healthcare provider who is an instructor at a teaching institution, like a medical or dental school.
Now, add to that scenario that you run a clinic that serves high-risk populations.
And, the clinic is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter how many frantic calls or texts you get asking for assistance, you aren’t yet able to reopen.
I was aware that universities across the world were closed. What I hadn’t considered were the ripple effects those closures would have.
After all, we always seem to hear about it in the context of the impact to students and professors, but rarely about the community-focused programs that also had to stop completely.
There are so many community services provided by graduate schools no matter their size.
Mental health services and social work initiatives were put on indefinite hold. for example. Clinics hosted and staffed by a university’s medical or dental school were no longer able to serve their patients.
In every major city as well as smaller towns, if a university offered care to the low-income, high risk populations – the very people most effected by COVID-19 – these options were no longer a resource for them.
So, I jumped at the chance to help when the University of Washington’s Geriatric Dental Clinic contacted me. I started Create To Donate to support just these kinds of initiatives.
After all, the maker community has many talents and is very generous. Making some N95 mask covers and scrub caps is just another ‘day at the office’ for makers across the US.
What Is The University of Washington Geriatric Dental Clinic?
The University of Washington Geriatric Dental clinic provides very low cost or free general dental care to seniors who have low incomes and don’t have dental insurance.
What originally started it out in a mobile van is now located in a small, but modern dental clinic in Lynwood, WA. For those unfamiliar with the area, this is in Snohomish County, north of Seattle.
The program operates one day a week as the University of Washington Geriatric Dental Clinic; the rest of the time it is a dental community clinic that treats uninsured patients. Dr. Susanne Jeffrey has been running this program for 8 years.
The clinic’s team feels very fortunate that, over the years, many of the improvements to the clinic have been possible with support from the community.
Who Does The University of Washington Geriatric Clinic Serve?
The clinic’s patients cannot afford regular dental care, or even the low fees at the main UW School of Dentistry clinic.
In addition, they are sometimes too weak or vulnerable to travel to the main clinic at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, which is only fifteen miles away.
Most patients have medical conditions such as: diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disease, or dental anxiety that complicate their care.
Many of the patients are also first generation immigrants to the US.
Since this program is unique in Washington state, these patients would have nowhere to go if the clinic cannot offer services.
Who Provides Care At The Geriatric Dental Clinic?
The University of Washington dental students rank among the best in the world.
Fourth year dental students, assisted by third year students, provide dental care in the UW Geriatric Dental Clinic. Dr. Jeffrey, a University of Washington dentistry instructor, supervises all of the students.
About seven students per day come to the clinic to take care of the patients.
Supporting patients in this clinic is part of their dental training, and it is one of the most popular rotations in the curriculum.
Some of the students love the assignment so much they choose extra rotations to help these appreciative patients!
What Services Are Provided At The Dental Clinic?
The University of Washington Geriatric Dental Clinic provides most types of dental care for their patients, from dental examinations and cleanings, to crowns and dentures.
The clinic’s teams is committed to providing the highest level of care possible. This means they are very deliberate in how and when they schedule patients, along with their treatment plans.
They even have modern digital dentistry equipment so students can make a crown on-site using computer-guided processes while the patient waits.
This ensures that the care is all accomplished in one day and that the senior doesn’t need to come for multiple crown appointments.
How Can I Help The University of Washington Geriatric Dental Clinic?
The students at the geriatric dental clinic have always provided all dental care with great attention to infection control.
The pandemic has brought additional concerns, so the clinic has been slow to re-open.
Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and we have all seen the devastation it has brought to long term senior facilities across our nation.
University of Washington is determined that the virus must not be spread between their students and their patients.
They hope to finally re-open in September 2020.
Part of their protection plan is that students will wear fit-tested N-95 respirators and face shields.
Since N-95 respirators are difficult to obtain, they want to provide students with an N95 mask cover (above) to extend the life of the N95 mask.
Disposable PPE is currently in short supply in the Northwest region. The same fabric used to manufacture disposable face masks is also used to make gowns and scrub caps. For this reason, PPE has become very costly – especially for a non-profit clinic.
The clinic already has washable procedure gowns for students to wear, but not washable N95 mask covers or scrub caps.
This is why they are making a request for donations of N95 mask covers and scrub caps.
The Clinic’s Wish List and Requirements
The clinic’s request for PPE will accommodate their small but mighty team. The facility provides laundry service for the washable medical PPE so all donations will be handled properly.
Here is detailed information about their needs.
Donation Request: N95 Mask Covers
The team at the clinic needs 20 – 30 N95 mask covers.
The main requirements are that the mask cover must fit over an N-95 face mask, must have 2 layers of fabric, and the design includes elastic ear loops. The mask cover does not need a metal strip for the nose.
RECOMMENDED N95 MASK COVER PATTERN: The free Create To Donate N95 mask cover pattern will have you cranking out covers in no time. If you fold your fabric several times before cutting, you can yield more than just two pieces at a time.
Donation Request: Scrub Caps
The team at the clinic would like 20 – 30 scrub caps to pair with the N95 mask covers.
These scrub caps:
– Must accommodate long hair because many of the students have shoulder-length or longer hair that they need to tuck into a cap.
– Do not need to be reversible or waterproof.
RECOMMENDED SCRUB CAP PATTERN: The free Create To Donate scrub cap pattern is a great option for the clinic’s needs. You can cut a batch at a time very quickly and it’s easy to sew.
When making items to donate to the geriatric dental clinic, please keep these things in mind:
– Multicultural, young adult student doctors in their late 20’s, males and females, will be wearing the caps and mask covers.
– Multicultural patients age 60-100, males and females, will be looking at the PPE while receiving care.
– The fabrics should be pre-washed, colorfast high thread-count fabric that will not shrink. Quilter’s cotton is always a great choice.
These types of fabrics are acceptable in the clinic environment:
– Solid colors, stripes, polka-dots, or simple patterns.
– Nature patterns, animal patterns – our much-loved UW mascot is a Husky dog so paw prints are fine.
Please avoid these fabrics and patterns:
– No scratchy, non-breathable, or waterproof fabrics. These are uncomfortable to wear while working under a hot light.
– No loosely-woven fabric. They are not protective enough. If you can see through the fabric, it’s probably too loosely woven.
– No fabrics that cannot be commercially laundered
– No children’s themes. Please remember, all of the patients are adults.
– No potentially frightening themes. Some patients may be already fearful of the dentist. No skulls, for example.
– No religious themes or logos. Patients and clinicians come from many different religious traditions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.)
– No political, commercial, or other potentially controversial symbols. As a state university, The University of Washington is prohibited from using from using political party and other political symbols.
Where Do I Send Donations?
You Can Help Healthcare Workers And Seniors!
You are helping healthcare workers and seniors with one simple action, when you donate masks and scrub caps to the University of Washington Geriatric Dental Clinic.
If you’re only able to make a handful of masks to donate, that would already provide 25% of their minimum needs!
So please consider supporting this great nonprofit.