March Funded Partner Spotlight – Partnership in Oral Health

Since inception, MHM has provided nearly $500 million in healthcare services through our clinics and programs, as well as through our partnerships. MHM is proud to partner with organizations that share our mission and organizational objective of delivering healthcare and social services to the least served in the South Texas region. By strengthening other organizations' capacity to provide services, we achieve our overarching goal of increasing access to care.

With this community healthcare model in mind, the partnership between the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School (UTHSCSA-DS) and San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic (SACDC) seemed rather fitting. Located at Haven for Hope, the largest, most comprehensive Homeless Transformation Campus in the U.S., SACDC provides charitable dental care to indigent persons in keeping with Christian ministry and has been a MHM funded partner since 2007.

SACDC provides a wide range of dental services utilizing a corps of volunteer dental professionals. Through this, they offer Haven for Hope residents and the surrounding community dental exams, cleanings, restorative dentistry, extractions, surgery and prosthodontics. Oral health education is provided to further empower patients and support improved oral health.


In late 2010, SACDC requested that the Dental School rotate dental students to its facility to provide primary dental care to patients as a means to supplement the care provided by the private sector volunteer corps of dentists who contribute their services. These rotations also help to enhance students’ clinical knowledge and skills in delivering primary dental care to the homeless population and underserved. In 2011, MHM funded the conversion of the existing dental radiology system to a digital system at SACDC to facilitate UTHSCSA-DS dental student training rotations, also reducing x-ray exposure to patients by 90%.

As a likely ally in health care, the UTHSCSA-DS became a MHM funded partner in 2002. Founded in 1970, the Dental School is a place where students, faculty and staff come together to share knowledge and skills. The mission of the Dental School is the acquisition, dissemination and use of knowledge toward the enhancement of oral health. This mission is addressed through six interrelated action components: education; research; patient care; community service; faculty and staff; and infrastructure.

In 2011, the Dental School added the Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency program allowing for dental care at SACDC in the form of extractions, root canals and other more complicated procedures to patients of the clinic.


Along with direct services provided to patients in need – who, most likely, without these types of programs and clinics may not have received care – this partnership has also instilled a sense of civic responsibility in the caregivers of such services. This is evident through a testimonial offered by a Dental School student after completion of work at SACDC:

"I got to know a patient yesterday, and we became very close after just a cleaning! She was one of the most grateful patients I have ever been blessed to work on. She made me feel like I made a difference and it was one of those moments where I love what I do (dentistry). I came to understand her plans for the future, and about her life on campus. As we hugged goodbye, I was wishing that I would somehow see her again, and I hope that I will. For some reason, I know I will never forget her face…just when we were getting used to the swing of things and appreciating this clinic, it is time to leave. I’m grateful to have this experience…"

MHM continues to fund this partnership for SACDC to continue to provide dental care for those who have little to no resources as well as for Direct Dental Services and Training of UTHSCSA-DS students at SACDC. It is estimated that dental students/residents will provide 2,000 dental visits of SACDC's anticipated 38,000 dental visits in 2012.

Both agencies are committed to addressing MHM’s goal of access to dental care for the underserved with the added impact of training a troop of dental students to sustain the effort.