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30 Sep 2016 | Australasian Dental Practice

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St Patrick’s opens free oral health clinic for the homeless in Fremantle

By David Petrikas

Philanthropy, Charity and Volunteering

The opening of St Patrick's Oral Health Clinic, which provides free and accessible health care for the homeless and other disadvantaged people in Fremantle and surrounding areas, is the culmination of a dream by the St Patrick's Community Support Centre.


Some years in the planning, the dental clinic became a reality in August 2016 thanks to the determination of the St Patrick's Community Support Centre dental project team and in no small part thanks to the generous in-kind donations and other financial assistance of A-dec and its key partners, West Coast Dental Depot, W&H and Acteon.

The clinic has also received significant funding from Lotterywest, along with the Ian Potter Foundation, the Australian Government, the Knights of the Southern Cross, Fremantle Partners in Recovery and PMC Associates, together with in-kind support from Applecross Dental Care, Cattani and other industry supporters.

In addition, local National Dental Foundation dentists and Dental Nursing Australia nurses will donate time to operate the clinic, providing oral healthcare to those unable to access public or private dental services.

An official launch was held at the new clinic on August 10, presided over by St Patrick's Board Chair, Dr Pat Colgan (a dentist himself and former ADA National President) and attended by 20 clients and around 40 guests including senior ADA and NDF members, Lotterywest, A-dec, West Coast Dental Depot and key Government departments.

St Patrick's Deputy CEO, Michael Piu, together with a dedicated project team of local dentists, and industry suppliers including A-dec and West Coast Dental Depot, has been tireless in pursuing the dream of providing vital oral healthcare to some of Perth's most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

The impact of poor oral health

Speaking at the opening, Mr Piu pointed to the devastating impact of poor oral health on people's physical and mental well being, confidence and self esteem.

"The St Pat's Oral Health Clinic will make a real difference in people's lives and help them move forward in life and achieve a more positive future. It was a very emotional experience to see one of the first clients emerge from the clinic," he said.

Mr Piu and St Patrick's CEO, Steve McDermott, used the occasion of the official opening to thank the many supporters of the clinic, some of whom had made an enormous contribution to making it all happen.

He made special mention of Joe Minervini from A-dec, who through his industry network had been able to source a full complement of equipment including an A-dec dental chair and delivery system, Acteon digital x-ray unit, Acteon PSPIX phosphor plate unit, Lisa B class steriliser and pouch barcode label printer to allow instrument tracking; together with a full complement of W&H handpieces, which he said would be the envy of many dentists. The equipment was installed by local A-dec dealer, Greg James from West Coast Dental Depot.

Dr Dominic Longo of Applecross Dental Care, who chairs the St Patrick's clinical advisory group, will provide clinical oversight of the new clinic and with a waiting list for patients already, St Patrick's is now seeking volunteer dental and nursing teams to keep up with demand for this much needed dental service.

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