Posted on May 02, 2019
At the Rotary International Convention in Toronto June 2018, Steve Bender, President of the Rotary Club of Newport Beach met with Mike Peers Past President and Rogelio Teran, President, of the Rotary Club of Playa Coronado to discuss the possibility of the Playa Coronado hosting a group of visiting dental professionals who would give a free clinic in Panama. This would be held under the auspices of Help in a Box, The Oral Hygiene Initiative and Ayuda International, anon-profit charity.  The object of AYUDA is to be actively engaged in and dedicated to improving and sustaining the oral health and social betterment of all underserved areas by providing assistance through treatment and training both within the United States and abroad.  The visiting team is self-financing hence there was no burden on our local, limited, resources. 
The date for the clinics were set from 22 April until 27thApril 2019 (USA Easter/Spring Break). The challenge for Playa Coronado was to find locations large enough in the Beaches Area to accommodate the team, host the clinics and to provide patients.  We chose Royal Decameron to accommodate the team and since no single venue was large enough, we agreed to split the clinics (a first) between Coclé Regional University, Penonomé and Coronado Bible Church, Coronado.  On the last day, those who were not painting a food house in Gorgona worked in Decameron providing treatments to Decameron employees and their children,
The Ministry of Health Panama (MINSA) fully supported the visit and we thank them for expediting and allowing the visit.  The University allowed full access to their Dental Clinic and also provided their own Dental Assistants to assist, a great experience for all.  The Bible Church comprised 2 large rooms where everything had to be brought in. Thanks to all those who helped to provide equipment, especially El Dorado Rotary Club and VOSH that provided the compressor to keep the dental stations working at maximum capacity.
The visiting team comprised 11 dental professionals and 36 assistants (Rotarians, Rotaractors, Dental Students and supporters), plus Playa Coronado Rotary Club members & spouses, members of Rotaract Coclé and other University faculty & students who all helped at reception and as Dental Assistants, all together about 100 people. 
The table below summarizes the results of the visit, over 500 patients signed up and despite having to shut down early after losing electrical service in Penonomé every patient at Coronado and Penonomé received the full treatment.  The value is based on California USA prices :-
Clinic Report for Panama,  04/22/19 - 04/27/19
Patients Signed Up:
# Performed
Value of Procedure
Patient Exams
Fluoride Varnish
Quad ScRP
Pulpotomy/Pulp Therapy
No Treatment*
*Patients will sometimes not receive treatment due to medical complications or because they have extensive restorative needs beyond the scope of the clinic.
The clinics set a new record for the cost of treatments provided AND this would not have been possible without additional supplies generously donated by Clinica Dental Coronado and Vial Centro Medical Dental in Coronado, both of which support Rotary and the Help in a Box aims.  Many thanks.
It was a pleasure to watch the speed, accuracy and ability of all the team, working in conditions which were probably better than the usual clinics held in the hills, but for us it was easier to move the patients to the clinics rather than the dentists to the hills, saving commuting time.  We and they had fun whilst working.
Steve Bender is now in Bocas del Toro (new Rotary Club!) where a permanent clinic facility is being developed to host future clinics for the Caribbean Coast of Panama.  
We wish to acknowledge and thank Steve for making this possible, his confidence in us to make it happen in Panama, and we look forward to future visits.