The mobile dental program has helped more than 800 youth since it launched in 2020.
(Photo) (L-R) Hanshil Jhuboo, program coordinator, Sandra Wheeler, registered dental hygienist, Jillian Brown, program coordinator
Keira Johnson remembers what it was like to be homeless and in pain.
“I was 16, living in a friend's car, sleeping wherever I could, working full time and trying to finish high school,” says Keira. “My mouth was bleeding and I was in pain but I couldn’t afford to see a dentist.”
Fortunately, a youth support worker connected Keira to Fraser Health Public Health’s dental program for youth, which operates out of the Mobile Health Clinic.
Helga Thordarson, a registered dental hygienist with Fraser Health, was able to assess Keira, work with a local dentist to come up with a treatment plan and find funding to cover the cost.
“For Keira it was 15, maybe 20 minutes in the van, and we did all of the behind the scenes work and phone calls to get her teeth fixed,” Helga says.
“I know we got her through a real rough patch in her life and a lot of our clients are going through rough times. Oral health may seem like a small thing but it has a big impact on people’s lives.”
The mobile dental program has helped more than 800 youth since it launched in 2020. The clinic operates out of a van and primarily visits designated locations in Surrey with regular stops at Foundry in Langley.
In addition to dental care, the Mobile Health Clinic supports immunizations for children up to five years old as well as sexual health and blood borne diseases. All of the mobile clinic’s services are designed to improve access to care for people who may face social barriers in receiving care from traditional sources.
“Being a kid and trying to figure out what am I going to eat, where am I going to sleep…in the scope of things, teeth may seem like a small thing but the dental care made such a huge difference in my life,” Keira says.
“I graduated high school. I’m working and planning my career…my teeth, my life, it’s all good.”
The Mobile Health Clinic is a partnership between Fraser Health, Surrey Hospitals Foundation and TELUS.
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