By Dami Akande

On August 12-18, 2018, health centers across the country celebrated National Health Center Week. Each day of the week, health centers were encouraged to serve and/or advocate for a particular patient population. On Wednesday, they were called to care for individuals experiencing homelessness through “Healthcare for the Homeless Day.” In solidarity, the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic (SBNC) answered the call to action on Wednesday August 15th by holding a dental health screening at Pershing Park.

The dental screening provided patients with the opportunity to receive an oral examination with the option of a fluoride varnish at the end. In addition to the screening, patients were welcome to interact with the SBNC team and receive more information on resources provided by the clinic. The screening was wholeheartedly deemed a success by Dr. Domenic Caluori, Chief Dental Officer of Eastside Dental Clinic.

Dr. Caluori graciously spent some time speaking to me about his experience serving Santa Barbara’s homeless community.

When asked about major trends he has seen in this patient population, he didn’t hesitate to identify sporadic attendance as a key issue. While many factors contribute to this trend, he recognizes that building trust with the community will help alleviate the issue. He is hopeful that once the community knows about the services provided by the clinic and becomes familiar with the team, they will be more likely to come in on a regular basis. “We’d like to do preventative dentistry much more than restorative dentistry,” he tells me.

Throughout his time with SBNC, Dr. Caluori has learned several lessons in compassion and advocacy. One lesson he would like to share with the public is this: “A lot of patients are not homeless because of their choice. It’s not their choice. Nobody wants to be homeless. Nobody likes to be homeless. They had something happen in their lives that was out of their control or a situation that they couldn’t manage, which could be an illness, an accident, being fired. Maybe they lost their business or got into a bad investment and had no friends to help and ended up on the street. What I would like the general public to understand is that it can take just a bad illness or bad situation in life without support and you have nothing. They are just like everybody else. They’re not homeless because of their own doing. They deserve our attention.”


Thank you Dr. Caluori and the SBNC team for the work you do in serving our community!