Students serve Operation Lone Star

June 24th, 2013


From August until June, Edward Manzano Middle School in Brownsville, Texas, is filled with sixth- to eighth-graders. But for a few days in July 2012, dental and dental hygiene students from A&M Baylor College of Dentistry called it home. And work.

A team of 23 second-year dental hygiene students and third- and fourth-year dental students made the trek to South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to take part for the first time in Operation Lone Star. Now in its 14th year, Operation Lone Star combines volunteers from the Texas Military Forces, Department of State Health Services, and local, state and federal agencies to provide free dental and medical care to South Texas residents. The total patient count to date tops 100,000.

TAMBCD students provided oral hygiene instruction and performed supervised ultrasonic cleanings, restorative care and extractions during the July 23-27 event. Portable equipment arrived in an 18-wheeler, courtesy of Tennessee-based Remote Area Medical Foundation.

Students coordinated with public health dentists from TAMBCD and across the country, in addition to the Texas State Guard, to see upward of 250 patients each day in the school cafeteria. On some days patients didn’t leave until 7 p.m.

Students didn’t have to travel far for rest; they slept on military cots in the band hall.

Dr. Jon Clemetson ’02, clinical assistant professor and president of the BCD Alumni Association, was there for part of Operation Lone Star and says he never once heard students complain.

“I was so impressed with those students that words cannot describe, to have any large group of people thrown together to live and work out of their comfort zones, and conduct themselves with such professionalism,” Clemetson says. “I will never forget this!”

— Jennifer Fuentes