Dr. Harry Dhanju and the Board of Directors of his Pacific Oral Health Centre, a state-of-the art facility in Surrey, recently held an event to celebrate a visionary venture that Dhanju hopes will become a multi-faceted approach to providing dental services to low income (under $36,000 annual income) and poor families who can’t afford dental care at all.
“For me this is a project to serve the community and not about money,” said Dr. Dhanju, president and founder, whose vision got a boost when it tied up with UBC School of Dentistry to serve as a satellite college for the training of their dental students as well as providing dental education to foreign students, especially from India and other countries in South Asia.
“My only request to the community is be honest and declare your proper income and avail our services and abuse the facility because our goal is not only to serve the community but also to make dental centre sustainable,” Dr. Dhanju said in an interview.
“We are here for the community if they have any questions regarding dental care or a professional opinion on the dental work they need or they have already got done because we provide affordable hands-on service. Even those who can’t afford the dental services, we will help them to get it done for very low cost or free.”
Prominent people from the dentistry fraternity were on hand for the first annual reception. They included BC Dental Association Chief Dr. Russell Humianishi, who has been a great supporter of the new facility, as well as Dr. Charles Schullar, Dean of the affiliated UBC School of Dentistry.
Dr. Dhanju also had a special guest from India: the eminent Dr. Anil Kumar Kohli, who is a retired brigadier of the Indian Army as well as a practising dental surgeon in India. He has been honoured by the Government of India with Padam Bhushan and other high honours for his work in the dentistry field.
“This is a state-of-the-art facility and for a great purpose of serving the underprivileged,” Dr. Kohli said in a phone interview. “Dr. Dhanju and his team have done a great job of bridging the gap between community care, professional training and research and in the process have broken all barriers to access to affordable dental care.”
One of the ways Dr. Dhanju feels that affordable dental care can be procided is through their newly created sponsor A Smile program, where local businesses or individuals can get involved and sponsor the dental work and in the process receive a charitable receipt for their donations since the Pacific Oral Health Society (P.O.H.S.) is a charitable, non-profit society.
The new centre will also help fill the gap as health care services worldwide struggle with increasing demands and longer wait lists.
P.O.H.S. is a world-class facility that provides oral health care for many underprivileged community members.
Dr. Dhanju said: “We are proud to host “Dentistry from the Heart” days to serve our community with a volunteer work force of dental professionals. The first event, December 4, 2010, was overwhelmed with 350 patients seeking dental treatment, which convinced the Board and stakeholders of the pressing need for the clinic.
“P.O.H.S. is unique and important for Surrey and all surrounding communities. We are excited to be working with the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Dentistry and dozens of other stakeholders who have supported and made this Centre possible. UBC Dentistry’s involvement is consistent with their tradition of working within the communities of B.C.”
By R. PAUL DHILLON