Maui Community College Launches Oral Health Initiative

UH Board of Regents approves collaborative educational and community assistance program

Maui College
Nancy Johnson, (808) 984-3450
Maui Community College
Kristen Bonilla, (808) 956-5039
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Jan 28, 2005

KAHULUI, Maui — A collaborative program that will provide educational instruction for dental assistants and address the dental health needs of the Maui County community received formal approval by the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents this month.

The Maui Oral Health Initiative (MOHI) at Maui Community College involves the operation of the Maui Oral Health Center in Wailuku and the mobilization of the Mobile Dental Van, a van that has been retrofitted as a dental clinic and will be mobilized to certain areas around Maui to serve economically disadvantaged community members. The third component is the Dental Assisting Certificate Program offered by Maui CC. It also involves the hiring of dentists to provide services as well as serve as faculty for the certificate program.

"Maui Community College is committed to meeting student career goals, especially those that coincide with community need," said Maui CC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto. "The Maui Oral Health Initiative demonstrates this commitment, provides a significant opportunity for our students, and is solid evidence that the college and the University of Hawaiʻi can serve an integral role in addressing the state‘s healthcare and economic issues."

In August 2001, a survey of Maui County dentists was conducted, and 95 percent of dentists surveyed indicated a shortage of dental assistants while 94 percent indicated a shortage of dental hygienists. To address this need, Maui CC faculty worked with the Maui County Dental Society to create a dental assisting curriculum.

The program‘s success led to successful accreditation of the Certificate of Dental Assisting by the American Dental Association Commission on Accreditation in January 2004. The long-range curriculum development goal is a Career Ladder Dental Assisting/Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene curriculum.

The Maui Oral Health Center in Wailuku, which has been in operation since August 2002, serves as a classroom and clinical site for dental assistant students with highly specialized dental equipment generously donated by Maui County dentists. In addition to serving as a training facility, the center serves the greater community need of providing affordable and accessible oral/dental healthcare to the underserved, low-income and uninsured families of Maui. The center currently sees approximately 300 patients per month, and there is a waiting list of over 500 children and 288 adults.

With the BOR approval, the Mobile Care Dental Van now serves as an additional clinical site for the dental assisting program as well as an enhancement in dental services for the people of Maui. The Mobile Care Dental Van is a 40-feet AirStream mobile unit that is ADA accessible. It is fully equipped with two dental operatories, separate sterilization, and patient intake space. The Mobile Van has a digital x-ray and a DENTRIX, advanced software for dental office management. These features provide significant augmentation to student learning at the Maui Oral Health Center.

The establishment of the initiative has been a collaborative endeavor with partners from HMSA Foundation, Hawaiʻi Dental Services, Maui County Dental Society, and the Maui County Dental Alliance, which includes the Department of Health, Community Clinic of Maui, Mobile Care Van-Office of Social Ministry of the Catholic Church, Hui No Ke Ola Pono, and Veteran‘s Administration Center.

There are currently 18 full-time students in the Dental Assisting Program at Maui CC. Dr. Daniel Mayeda serves as the Dental Director for the Maui Oral Health Initiative, and is an instructor in the Dental Assisting Program.