There are dozens of dentist practices across Canada run by South Asians, but one in particular that recently opened has received a fair bit of attention. It is Strive Dental, a non-profit dental clinic whose mission is to “provide affordable and accessible dental care to under-served and socially disadvantaged families.”
This was an idea conjured up by Dr. Harpreet Dhillon and Dr. Belrup Patrola. While there are other models that provide discounted or free dental care in the region, they say the others are mostly student-driven and dentist-supervised.
This one is run exclusively by professional dentists.
The fact is that dental work is not funded and unless one has work-related insurance that covers dental work, you are out of pocket. But there is a growing number of people working at jobs that do not provide adequate dental coverage.
The clinic offers a 20 per cent discount to those who can’t afford dental treatment.
The area where the clinic is located has a large immigrant population and many can barely afford to spend large amounts for dental work.
While at university, Dr. Belrup Patrola himself was unable to pay for dental care. He was looking at a large bill for a root canal and crown, or, for much less money, have the tooth pulled. He opted to have the tooth gone instead.
“That kind of made me realize how many other people must have to make the same decision. It was tough on me. When I got into dentistry, I was talking to Dr. Dhillon and said once we’ve established ourselves, we have to find a way to give back,” he said in an interview with a media outlet.
Dhillon and Patrola say they will donate all of their net profits to local charities.
First to benefit will be Surrey Food Bank and Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen. In the future, they plan to offer funding to other charities, and perhaps launch a scholarship program for high school students interested in the health field.
The clinic also accepts Ministry of Social Services dental coverage and won’t charge patients the difference between the ministry fee guide and the British Columbia Dental Association fee guide. Both say most dental clinics don’t accept ministry insurance, due to the lower payment they’d receive.
And the dentists said they didn’t skimp on equipment just because it’s a non-profit.
It turns out, the inspiration for the clinic goes back decades, Patrola explained.
In Sikhism, “seva” is a word that describes “selfless service.” -CINEWS