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Global Initiatives: Corfu, Greece

August 23, 2016

corfu2016-26Corfu, Greece, a small island in the northwest Ionian Sea, is ready for big steps. These steps began with a new Global Initiative at UMSOD: Prevention and Management of Oral and Craniofacial Diseases in Special Needs Individuals. Three third year dental students,(me, Nicole Pentis; Brittney Phillips and Jenn Cleary) joined three faculty members (Drs. Kyriaki Marti, Carlos Gonzalez-Cabezas, and Margarita Fontana) working hard to bring accessible dentistry to the Special Needs population in Corfu.Under the Greek sun, we started the week familiarizing ourselves with the only hospital on Corfu. Oral surgeons explained their experiences with the special needs population. We visited private practices of local dental practitioners to better understand their perspectives and background. We had the pleasure of attending a Special Olympics team practice, where the coaches and parents displayed a passion for their athletes, and an even bigger passion for creating accessible and affordable dental care on Corfu.Corfu-2

As the week went on, students and faculty from the University of Thessaloniki joined our team, and together, with collaboration from the Dental Association of Corfu, we were ready to start brainstorming ways to improve care for all patients on Corfu. Our brainstorming was on display as the trip concluded with a Symposium organized by UMSOD students and attended by local dentists, specialists, lawmakers, parents, and caretakers of special needs patients. Topics ranged from treating patients under general anesthesia, to Special Olympics Coaches’ experiences, to teaching caretakers about oral health, and finally, future steps towards providing Special Needs dental care on Corfu.

But it wasn’t all work!  We had a little time to explore Corfu and take a boat ride in the beautiful Ionian Sea.

We’re proud to have started this relationship with the people of Corfu and look forward to working together. The conversations we had, relationships we formed, and the foundation we laid, all will lead towards providing dental care to one of the populations in greatest need: those with Special Healthcare Needs.

Nicole Pentis is a D3 with a life-long interest in special needs care. For more photos from Corfu, see the album on Flickr at

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