Like many pieces of medical equipment at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, the mobile dental cart that’s used by the team of Dentists in the Operating Room is invaluable. Without it, procedures cannot be performed and patient care comes to a standstill.
That’s what happened recently when, despite the team’s best attempts, the mobile dental cart, used for performing restorative dentistry like fillings, reached the end of its life after approximately 10 years of use. “We knew we couldn’t continue to use it anymore, without risking patient safety,” said Dr. Don Young, Chief of Dentistry at TBRHSC. “It got to the point where we didn’t feel that we could complete a procedure without it breaking down, and, when you’re in the OR, that’s not a situation you want to happen.”
So when the mobile dental cart reached the end of its life, Director of Surgery and Ambulatory Services, Ron Turner, reached out to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation with an urgent appeal. “At the time when we requested the new equipment, the Dentists were only able to perform extractions, and couldn’t provide any type of restorative dentistry,” he explained. “This had a major impact on patient care, and so, we asked the Health Sciences Foundation to consider our request to replace the equipment. Luckily, our request was reviewed quickly and, thanks to donors, we were able to purchase a new dental cart and regular patient care has been restored.”
The new equipment – officially called a ‘Portable Dental Unit’ – was welcomed by Dr. Young and his colleagues. “We are so grateful to be able to, once again, perform our entire scope of practice here in the OR. The patients we see here are typically unable to have these procedures in a regular office environment. So when we didn’t have the necessary equipment, it created a real delay in providing care.”
Patients requiring the specialized dental services in the OR at TBRHSC are those who are, in Dr. Young’s words, “medically compromised, have special needs, or, in many cases, are very young children with excessive decay.”
“We’re also the hospital that serves the surrounding region and we see many patients from outside of Thunder Bay,” added Dr. Young. “So it wasn’t only patients in Thunder Bay that felt the impact of our loss of equipment, it was those all across Northwestern Ontario.”
Generally, in a year, just over 220 patients are cared for by the Dentists in the OR. According to Dr. Young, some of them are patients who are seen every few years, while others are one-time visits. No matter, each patient deserves access to the necessary equipment for the Dentist to perform the required service. The new portable Unit provides all the needed tools and suction, includes an internal air compressor and vacuum and best of all, it is simply plugged into a standard electrical outlet, making it completely mobile.
“We were in a situation where we were desperate for this new equipment,” said Dr. Young, “and thanks to the generosity of our community, we are ‘back in business’ per se. On behalf of the dental team at TBRHSC and the patients we serve, I would like to say thank you to the donors who chose to make healthcare a priority and who have given to the Health Sciences Foundation.”