CWRU School of Dental Magazine_2023

Faculty and students provide lifesaving, essential care to those in need

McGregor PACE, a nonprofit senior care organization, has been bringing Lifelong Smiles to its facility since the program’s inception.
“It’s had a tremendously positive effect on all involved,” said Tangi McCoy, CEO at McGregor PACE. Residents who participate in the program, she said, don’t have to travel or ask
their loved ones to help them make special arrangements for the appointments. Staff and nurses save time and resources because they don’t have to transport and escort residents to a dentist’s office.

Suparna Mahalaha, DDS (CWR ’98; DEN ’01; GRS ’04, public health),  and Gulnar Feerasta, director of programs at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, she saw an opportunity to do what she does best: help those in need. They have since joined forces to answer the call for these essential dental services.

But it’s not just underserved seniors who benefit from the program, which has helped about 900 patients since it first hit the streets in 2015.

“What we offer them,” said Mahalaha, “they give back to our students tenfold with lessons in hands-on care and compassion.” Mahalaha and Blackmon enlist a team of third-year dental
students, who join them to provide comprehensive dental care, assess patients through interdisciplinary training and attend patient rounds with a geriatrician. It’s all part of their curriculum, which requires them to complete a clinical
geriatric rotation.

The lifelong smiles van is just one of many grants that the McGregor Foundation provides to serve the greater Cleveland Community.