Filling a Gap in Dental Care

Dental Assisting for Veterans

Day-long community service effort provided free dental services for UCC student veterans.

ROSEBURG, Oregon – The Dental Assisting program at Umpqua Community College (UCC) offered an outstanding service to the community on Thursday, Nov. 30. The nonprofit organization Caring Hands, Dr. Representative Cedric Hayden, Dr. David Eichman, and two local dental hygienists, along with the program's staff and students, filled a gap in dental care by offered free services for UCC veteran students.

During the eight-hour event, which was held in the state-of-the-art dental lab at the campus’s Bonnie J. Ford Health, Nursing and Science Center, roughly 25 people received free services ranging from cleanings and fillings to x-rays and extractions. This event not only served veterans, it provided 20 dental assisting students with the hands-on learning opportunities they will need in their future careers.

"There are very little dental services available for our veterans, so we wanted to do a free clinic to help fill this void," Dr. Hayden said. "It is also a great opportunity for students to get hands-on experience."

The event made it so veterans like Paul Eckel, a student in UCC’s Emergency Medical Services program, could get his teeth cleaned. The U.S. Army veteran says it has been nearly two years since he’s been to a dentist.

“It’s very difficult for veterans to get dental care—unless they are considered combat disabled,” Randy Meyer, the director of Caring Hands, said.

“I’m only considered 60 percent disabled,” Eckel said, “so I don’t qualify for this care.”

Other students who were able to receive care have not been to a dentist in three, four, even five years.

“We like to give back to our community,” Dr. Hayden said. “We believe in helping veterans. It is a valuable service for what they have done for our country.”

The event also provided an opportunity for other members of the community to give back. Alumna Jody Perkins, who studied pre-dental hygiene at UCC in the 1970s, was one of the hygienists who volunteered at the event. Now retired, she works part-time treating children through the Mercy Foundation’s Healthy Kids Outreach Program.

“This is all about helping people out,” Perkins said. “This is a hands-on learning opportunity, and it’s an opportunity to give back. A lot of good things are happening here today.”

It took six months to organize the event. Everyone served was treated like a regular patient; dental charts were made and will be kept. The hope is to continue the event so the patients seen on this day have the ability to receive regular dental care.

About Umpqua Community College

Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.


Tamara Loosli - Contact
Coordinator, Associate Professor, Dental Assisting
Phone: 541-440-4710


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